Indiana State University senior Candace Greubel scoured newsletter articles before her class forwarded its project to its eager audience, Delta Faucet Company employees.
Her marketing class featured several projects with the Indianapolis-based organization.
In the semester-long initiatives, one group of students created a newsletter for Delta Faucet’s sourcing team while another group analyzed the drawbacks and benefits of developing new business opportunities in various countries throughout the world.
The projects were developed as an educational tool to teach the course lessons in business-to-business marketing.
“I am very creative, so I loved getting the chance to put my creativity to work,” Greubel, a communication major from Haubstadt, said of the newsletter project. “It also gave me a lot of experience in my field and what it is like to work in a business-to-business atmosphere, which gave me experience I had never had before.”
Ken Jones, senior lecturer of operations and supply chain management, taught the class. He contacted the company, and they set up the project.
Students and several Delta Faucet employees conducted weekly telephone conferences to discuss the projects, which were integrated into the course curriculum.
“The students might have thought we were a little crazy at first, throwing them into such a challenging situation with a company 90 miles away in greater Indianapolis, but in the end, we all see the benefit of pushing ourselves and getting outside of our comfort zones in the classroom,” Jones said. “Safe to say that based on this experience, we will try to do similar types of projects with Delta Faucet and others in the near future. Given technology and the willingness of our ISU business students to go ‘above and beyond,’ geography is no longer a factor.”
The newsletter, which is intended for other employees outside of the sourcing department, included articles on community service and an employee profile. The intent was for students to create a template and the first newsletter, which could then be replicated in the future by company employees, said Megan Mills, commodity manager at Delta Faucet.
“I believe all of my colleagues are very impressed by the students and their projects,” Mills said. “It is great to see such driven, young individuals who truly care about providing a finished product which is usable well into the future.”
The company sales department has a similar kind of newsletter, which inspired the sourcing team to want its own as a way of explaining the department’s tasks to other employees, said Jeff Hamilton, another commodity manager at Delta Faucet.
“It had actually been on a wish list of our department for a while,” he added. “We didn’t really have anyone who specialized in putting together a newsletter format. They did an excellent job of creating a format for the newsletter.”
In the other project, students analyzed a variety of influential business factors of various countries around the world, such as Vietnam and Brazil, to analyze the nations providing the best opportunities to expanding business.
“I would encourage any students to try to take part in something like this if they get a chance,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think these types of programs are really common for all students in all academic backgrounds. When it comes up I think it’s a good opportunity for students to learn more than they would in a classroom.”
In both projects, Jones tasked the students with finding ways to help the other group develop its work. The student newsletter included an article that featured the other group’s findings and recommendations.
“I created a very realistic scenario that is similar to the times in business when people are told, ‘Deliver this main project that is in your area of responsibility, but oh, by the way, we need you to support this other big project too,’” Jones said. “That happens a lot in business, so it’s really teaching the students how do they juggle these balls in the air and make sure nothing drops.”
The company provided another learning opportunity for an ISU student. Derek Heinz, a senior operations and management analysis major from Vincennes, joined Jones during a daylong event at Delta Faucet, where the company invited people to discuss and make recommendations to the company’s supply chain process.
Heinz enjoyed the atmosphere, as the company encouraged a variety of recommendations, and employees were willing to answer any questions pertaining to the supply chain.
“It was a good opportunity to learn about the company and get an idea how real supply chains work from beginning to end,” Heinz said.
The students in Jones’ class enjoyed the projects, which provided them with additional experience. Deadlines in business are more stressful, Greubel explained, because the entire company is depending on the person doing the work to abide by them.
“I received way more experience in this class than I did in any of my other courses,” she added. “In all the classes I have had as an undergrad at ISU, this class was definitely the most influential, experiential and provided the most hands-on, real world experience.”