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September 26, 2019 Jeremy Boren

Sheetz Innovates, PPG Smudge-Free Coatings, GrayMatter Wins at Tech50

Sheetz to Debut Technology and Innovation Hub in Pittsburgh

Sheetz announced this week it will open its first innovation hub in a co-working space at Pittsburgh’s Bakery Square — a former Nabisco factory that now serves as high-end commercial space for Google, UPMC Enterprises, University of Pittsburgh research centers and retail shops.

Sheetz’s hub will “focus on developing, testing and implementing transformative products and services to continue to meet customer demand for the ultimate one-stop-shop,” Sheetz said.

“Our mission at Sheetz is to create a business that puts the Sheetz as we know it today, out of business. This hub is an investment in the future and will give Sheetz a unique opportunity to access developers and other talent in Pittsburgh.”

Emily Sheetz, AVP of Strategy at Sheetz

In an interview with NEXTPittsburgh, Emily Sheetz, AVP of Strategy, said the new office will be “an internal incubator that will take a long-term view of the industry” and try to predict what convenience will look like in 10 years.

It will start with a staff of 10; but it is expected to grow to about 20 employees next year, she told NEXTPittsburgh.

Sheetz has gained a reputation for making innovative moves. Its touch-screen ordering system is a popular feature in stores. It recently released a limited-run coffee bean IPA called Project Coffee Hopz, and followed it up with a second beer called Project Brewberry Muffinz. And it announced this year it is selling a line of CBD products at its 140 stores in Pennsylvania.

Many food and beverage companies are building or have opened similar innovation hubs to kick-start or accelerate digital transformations. Examples include T. Marzetti Company, Cargill, and The J.M. Smucker Company, to name a few.

Sheetz has about 500 stores and 17,000 employees in six states.

The technology hub is set to open on Oct. 1.

Car and Driver Tests PPG Coating Designed to Reduce Smudging

Car and Driver

PPG, a GrayMatter partner, is showcasing how its high-tech coatings can help car manufacturers produce interior features that last longer and make fingerprint smudges nearly invisible.

In a LinkedIn post linking to Car and Driver’s story, PPG CTO and Vice President wrote, “Screens are everywhere – PPG is improving them. #ppgproud #paintswithpurpose #protectandbeautify”

Car and Driver reports that PPG offers a solution that would make it easier for car owners to clean their shiny, touchscreen surfaces.

“Both the PPG sample and iPhone screen performed identically: the fingerprints registered so faintly that a police expert would have had trouble pulling a set, and both wiped off what little smudging there was with a single, light swipe. The Volvo screen took a minute or more of determined wiping to get it smear-free again. So the new coating delivers a major—and welcome—improvement, and it should work just as well on piano black trim, we are told,” Car and Driver wrote.

In USA Today, PPG says it’s working with car makers to produce interior finishes that last 15 years (or more) instead of 10, because cars are lasting longer. The average age of a car on the road is now an all-time high of 11.8 years, the publication reports.

“Coatings and paints are ‘going to have to be very high quality’ to last for 15 to 20 years, Rebecca Liebert, senior vice president of automotive coatings and mobility for PPG, told USA Today.

That will likely mean a heavier reliance of synthetic materials instead of, say, natural leather, which can degrade more quickly. PPG is working on ways to make synthetic leather feel more like real deal but perform at a higher level.

GrayMatter Wins Back-to-Back Solutions Provider of the Year

On Wednesday night the Pittsburgh Technology Council honored GrayMatter for the second year in a row as Solutions Provider of the Year.

“GrayMatter won solutions provider of the year. The company helps clients use data-driven technologies to reduce costs, improve monitoring and intelligence and secure their systems from threats. GrayMatter won solutions provider of the year in the innovative technologies category at last year’s Tech 50 Awards,” wrote the Pittsburgh Business Times.

GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie accepted the award and thanked the 700-plus people in the room for supporting Pittsburgh’s technology ecosystem.

You can read about GrayMatter’s 2018 win here.

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Jeremy Boren

Jeremy is GrayMatter's Brand Manager and the author of TechHub and the emPOWERUP Podcast. He writes about digital solutions, trends and culture in the world of operational technology. Jeremy's background is in daily journalism. He has a passion for storytelling and enjoys highlighting the technologies and professionals taking on complex challenges in manufacturing, energy, cybersecurity and infrastructure.