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3M launches Filtrete odor reduction filter

BY Allison Cerra

ST. PAUL, Minn. — 3M has rolled out a new product that’s designed to remove odors found throughout one’s home.

The Filtrete odor reduction filter is designed to remove such odors as those from cooking, tobacco smoke, pets, mildew and cleaning chemicals — while also helping to improve the air quality in the home, 3M said.

The Filtrete portfolio of products includes air filters, air purifiers and replacement filters, room air conditioner filters, under-sink water systems, a water station and water pitcher.

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Walgreens hosts live Twitter chat around its new REDI program

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday afternoon hosted a live chat on Twitter regarding its newly launched national Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative, an in-store training program designed to help people with disabilities gain retail employment, and how that program soon will expand.

The Twitter chat was retweeted across several employment agencies and companies that service persons with disabilities, including Big Tent Jobs, a recruiter that places "degreed pros" with disabilities and chronic conditions; Milwaukee’s Independence First; the SSB BART Group in San Francisco; Richmond, Va.-based TecAccess, WORK Inc. in Dorchester, Mass., and the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center.

"Thank you for hiring people like me, have you been surprised by [the] productivity & work ethic [of persons with disabilities]?" one Twitter participant asked. "We are so impressed with performance and desire to be successful, 66% REDI grads recommended for hire. #walgreensREDI," answered @WAG_Deb, the Twitter account for Deb Russell, Walgreens’ manager, outreach and employee services.

Walgreens is expanding its REDI initiative across Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin this year, with plans to reach all states by the end of 2013. As part of the process, Walgreens identifies a local agency that can help shepherd the project with a four-week training program.

The goal is to prepare qualified candidates for employment in store positions, as well as positions in any retail setting that requires similar skills. Responsibilities include cash register operations, customer service, merchandising, store inventory and maintaining store signage and displays.

Beyond training managers around how to best support and maintain motivation across an undertapped work force, Walgreens also identifies community agencies that can serve as life coaches where appropriate.

In 2010, Walgreens piloted the REDI program in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, bringing together Walgreens store managers and job coaches funded by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services to train candidates. After more than 200 trainees and 66% of REDI graduates were recommended for hire, the program grew to more than 150 stores throughout Texas, New York and Connecticut. To date, nearly 400 externs have completed training, and more than 46% have been employed by Walgreens or other retailers.

"A final for @WalgreensNews [Walgreens’ News Twitter feed]: More companies doing this equals more opportunity for people with disabilities!!!" tweeted @WAG_Deb at the conclusion of the chat session.

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GMDC incorporates virtual conferencing element into annual conference

BY Michael Johnsen

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Global Market Development Center on Tuesday announced the introduction of Telepresence service as part of its 42nd GMDC General Merchandise Conference to be held in Orlando, Fla., June 1 to 5. According to the association, the introduction of Telepresence will extend the reach of GMDC’s usual physical meetings to incorporate virtual connections to company headquarters or even more remote locations, such as home offices or those traveling who rely on tablet technology.

Through Telepresence, companies involved in the “pilot sessions” during the conference will experience life-sized participation that “feels real." GMDC’s extensive testing in Telepresence also has revealed new ways to reach out to global connections from the comfort of a home or office. This will be demonstrated during the GM12 Conference at the GMDC Connect Demo Center, which will provide Telepresence training sessions every 30 minutes as a vehicle to introduce members into a virtual meeting environment.

Since Telepresence is being held as a pilot, only select attendees will be directly involved in this year’s Telepresence activities, but GMDC is offering all conference attendees a chance to see this technology first-hand for themselves. During the demonstration sessions, GMDC will be distributing information that provides advice on “Tips for Successful Telepresence."

“By utilizing the powerfully enabling technology that is available today to make this happen, GMDC will be generating an environment that will be much easier and infinitely more cost effective to get the right people seated at the meetings and move business forward,” stated Dave McConnell, president and CEO of GMDC. “We are excited to be able to enhance what has, and continues to be, a highly productive meeting."

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