An Adaptive Industry

Meet your Dealers of the Year
Emily Kay Thompson, Tom Gresham, and Steven H. Miller
October 23, 2018
FEATURE ARTICLE

 

Excellence in Technology and Innovation | 

A.W. Hastings & Co. 

By Tom Gresham, for Window & Door magazine


The staff at Marvin at 7 Tide helps visitors understand the purpose and possibilities of the venue. They provide guidance so visitors can narrow their focus and make the most of their time at the venue. 

The Tech

Cutting-edge technology is at the heart of the Marvin at 7 Tide experience. The Marvin Living Room uses a product-to-scale projector to give visitors a clear view of the size and scale of their window and door options in real time. The projection can easily be adjusted to change the size of the products and help customers identify the best fit for their projects. 

Another feature available in the venue is a smart touch table that allows visitors to explore a window design and alter its color, cladding, style, hardware and more, giving them the flexibility to consider any option available to them in a user-friendly fashion. In addition, visitors can use a special notebook to tap photos, renderings and samples that inspire them. Those images are emailed to them to consider more closely after their visit.

A.W. Hastings & Co., based in Enfield, Connecticut, serves as the exclusive distribution representative for Marvin Windows and Doors in New England and eastern New York. Through the years, A.W. Hastings representatives have worked closely with the region’s Marvin retail network, to evaluate and explore the best ways to present the company’s products to customers. 

Over time, A.W. Hastings leaders came to recognize that retail customers were not always able to clearly visualize new windows and doors in the spaces being designed for them, which was hampering the decision-making process. A.W. Hastings decided it needed to create a new kind of space that would give customers, including architects and designers, customizable experiences to validate their decision-making, build their confidence and better explore the myriad possibilities of Marvin’s products. The result is Marvin at 7 Tide, which A.W. Hastings calls the country’s first window and door experience center. 

The 3,500-square-foot facility in Boston is home to a series of striking spaces that offers a high-tech, high-touch experience of Marvin’s windows and doors. The highly creative venue, which is free for visitors, has netted A.W. Hastings the Window and Door Excellence in Technology and Innovation award.

Marvin at 7 Tide, which opened in 2016, resembles neither a showroom nor a retail store. No sales occur there, and no pricing information is available in the facility. Lauren Hokenson, manager of Marvin at 7 Tide, says the venue’s “no pressure zone” can be an adjustment for some first-time visitors, especially homeowners. Once they get accustomed to the environment and its possibilities, however, it frees them to immerse themselves in the products in a way they never have before.

“There’s a level of comfort that comes with just being free to learn and explore,” Hokenson says. “Without the pressure, I think it also builds a nice trust between the team onsite and the customer coming in. I can’t tell you how many times people have said, ‘This has been so helpful. I can’t believe it’s free.’”

Pam DiVenuti, architectural products manager for Mid-Cape Home Centers, a Cape Cod-based building materials dealer that sells Marvin products, concurs that Marvin at 7 Tide has become “a fantastic resource” and complement to Mid-Cape’s more traditional showroom experience. 

Marvin at 7 Tide can “literally bring a design to life for homeowners,” she says, providing a unique asset to both homeowners and the architects and designers who are working with them. “The scale and proportion can be so difficult for homeowners to wrap their heads around. When we go into the Marvin Living Room and are able to project life-sized window and door units that replicate the scope of the project, showing the actual sizing that is proposed, it’s a huge help for people,” DiVenuti says. 

The people behind the curtain

Hokenson leads a staff of four at Marvin at 7 Tide. The staff helps visitors understand the purpose and possibilities of the venue and then works to help them get the most out of their experience. The vast range of options offered at the facility initially can overwhelm customers, Hokenson says, but staff members are adept at providing guidance so visitors can narrow their focus and use the center in a way that is best for them and their particular needs. “We’re almost translators in that sense of being able to talk about the product in a way that the average homeowner can understand,” Hokenson says.

A.W. Hastings also faced a communication challenge when attempting to explain to staff what the venue would mean for visitors. That made getting key people into the facility to see it for themselves critical to the implementation process. The company took busloads of A.W. Hastings employees to Marvin at 7 Tide when it was time to open the doors.

“No matter what your role was, whether you were driving a truck, working in marketing or making sales, we wanted you to see it,” Miana Hoyt Dawson, director of marketing for A.W. Hastings, recalls. “We brought everybody through the space and walked them through what an experience would be like for a client and allowed them to ask questions and let the idea of the place marinate with them so that they could speak about it clearly and help support it as we were rolling it out.”

Evolving with experience

Because Marvin at 7 Tide marked such a fresh approach to showcasing products and their potential, Hokenson says the use of the venue has changed as staff, retailers and others understand better how people interact with it. For instance, A.W. Hastings shifted its annual fall retail forum to Boston and brought its retail partners to the site to enjoy a hands-on experience they could tout to their customers.

A.W. Hastings established the facility with the idea that it would largely serve architects and designers who would bring in their clients, but Marvin at 7 Tide has proven popular for individual homeowners who arrive on their own without appointments. Moving forward, Hokenson expects more adjustments and advances await.

“One of the beauties of this space is that we are positioned to be constantly evolving,” Hokenson says. “When we launched, we had a certain idea of how the space would be used and who would use it and that idea has evolved. As we test out different things, we will be able to continue to pivot and evolve in real time. There’s so much we can do here.”