Monday, March 25, 2013

Fall 2013 Project: Knaack 

Faculty Coach: Dr. James Johnson
Meeting Times: 11:00 am - 12:15 T/TH

Topic: Packaging Strategy 

Knaack LLC is the leading provider of tool and material secure storage systems in JobSite, Truck, and Van applications for professional contractors. The company was founded over 50 years ago, and still operates its headquarters and manufacturing operations from Crystal Lake, Illinois. Knaack LLC is proud of its state-of-the-art metal working and finishing operations and the leading position its KNAACK® and
WEATHER GUARD® brands have earned for durable, secure tool storage products.

Knaack LLC would like an ELC project team to assess the effectiveness of its product packaging. The Company believes that the packaging could be improved to support sales and marketing  objectives and could reduce shipping damage, improving customer satisfaction. The ELC team will be asked to review best practices from the industry and benchmark Knaack packaging against other companies and products to  make recommendations relating to process, cost, marketing, shipping and damage. .

The final deliverable will be a report on Product Packaging with a full cost benefit analysis and proforma P&L and balance sheet to support improvement recommendations.

The Knaack LLC team is excited to work with an ELC project group and will provide necessary data and history on products, packaging, claims and costs to facilitate the development of a successful business model. All majors can apply.

To learn more about KNAACK® and WEATHER GUARD® Equipment, visit us at and Be sure to locate us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube using the keywords “Knaack” and “Weather Guard”.
Fall 2013 Project: True Value

Topic: Positioning True Value for continued success with a new generation of consumers and investors
With our Destination True Value store format driving our growth, True Value Company is on the move and growing. We put our retailers' success at the heart of everything we do. 
Our competitive edge: An organization with $1.8 billion-plus in annual revenue, more than 70,000 products, 12 distribution centers and extensive buying power. All the tools our entrepreneur-retailers need to be the best.
Our presence is worldwide. True Value's cooperative serves 54 countries with more than 5,000 stores and 3,000 associates. Many of our retailers enjoy a rich history spanning generations in their local communities. The True Value name is a trusted and recognized brand.
Whether operating as independent hardware stores or specialty business, our retailers are supported by the training, technology and retail support of an organization that strives to be the best in the industry. True Value stores are positioned to compete with the resources to deliver a compelling shopping experience, the most relevant product assortment and unparalleled customer service.
Although we have a rich history of success, we know that the future consumers and new True Value owners will look for different products and investment requirements than those being met today. With this in mind we are looking to increase our understanding of the changing requirements to best position ourselves as a relevant and profitable company into the future.
True Value would like to formally engage an ELC team to analyze the buying needs, preferences, capabilities and trends of the Gen X & Y consumer and potential store owners/investors.  This analysis will provide insights we can employ to continue to grow profitably by providing relevant store formats, mix of products/services and investment opportunities to respond to changing demographics.
All majors may apply. 
Fall 2013 Project: Illinois Section American Water Works Association 

Faculty Coach: Dr. James Johnson
Meeting Time: Project Kick-Off May 15. Summer meeting times TBD. Final presentation date, October 18, 2013 during the ISAWWA Board Meeting.

Topic: Increasing Awareness and Attracting Membership

The Illinois Section of the American Water Works Association (ISAWWA) is dedicated to the promotion of public health and welfare in the provision of drinking water in sufficient quality and quantity.  ISAWWA is proactive in advancing the technology, science, management, education, conservation, and government policies relative to the stewardship of water. 

The ISAWWA leadership asked the ELC to tackle two questions. 1. How do we create increased awareness of the drinking water industry and its diverse and challenging career opportunities that are available? 2. How should we serve individuals who have embarked on a water career in the years ahead, and thereby promote the value of membership in our association?  The ISAWWA leadership wants to have a better understanding of the interests and needs of the next generation of future members.

This project is ideal for students seeking an ELC project experience over the summer months.  All majors may apply. Marketing and Human Resource Management expertise will be needed on the team
Fall 2013 Project: Turning Point

Faculty Coach: Dr. Mark Rosenbaum
Meeting Time: 2:00 – 3:15 pm M/W

Topic: Social Media and Strategic Initiatives

Turning Point, Inc. is a crisis intervention 501 (c) 3 non-profit agency with a mission to confront violence against women and children in McHenry County, Illinois. Established in 1981, Turning Point served 1,754 clients in 2012 and responded to 5,228 crisis hotline and information calls. Its work provides life-changing and lifesaving services and secure shelter to those who suffer the horrific crime of violence perpetrated by those they should be most able to trust, and in homes that should be their safe haven.

Turning Point would like an ELC team to develop a social media initiative with a goal to cultivate and engage donors and volunteers who are new to the organization. In addition, the ELC team will develop a strategic initiative for a planned giving campaign that can be used to attract potential donors.

All majors may apply. Expertise in social media, advertising, and market research will be needed on the team. Financial expertise will assist in ascertaining costs of recommendations.
Fall 2013 Project: Ronald McDonald House Charities 

Faculty Coach: Tamara Phelan
Meeting Time: 3:30 – 4:45 pm T/Th

Topic: Financial Modeling
The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. Guiding us in our mission are our core values:
  • Focusing on the critical needs of children.
  • Celebrating the diversity of the programs we offer and the staff, volunteers and donors who make them possible.
  • Staying true to our heritage of 38 years of responsible stewardship.
  • Operating with accountability and transparency.

RMHC currently has a financial modeling tool that the local RMHC Chapters are required to fill out when they are going to either expand their Ronald McDonald House or build a new one. The purpose of the tool is to help Chapters determine whether they will be able to afford the expansion costs as well as the additional operational expenses. The current tool is way too detailed and complicated. The goal for the ELC team is to design a new financial modeling tool that accomplishes the same goal, but is much easier to understand and complete.

The project requires knowledge of Microsoft Excel and accounting concepts. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Assistant Coach Perspective: Ryan

I chose to become an assistant coach on an ELC project because I felt that I could gain valuable leadership experience. Being an assistant coach is a unique experience because it forces you to manage a team from the outside. Changing from working on a team to leading a team is not easy but is something that will benefit me in my career. Trying to motivate people with different personalities is a task that most students will not experience until they achieve manager after school. Being an assistant coach on an ELC gave me this opportunity while I was still a student. Balancing school work, a part-time job, and helping coach an ELC project took up most of my time; however, I forced myself to become more organized and plan ahead.

The ELC has made me more responsible and my time managing skills have greatly improved. Working with actual companies is much different than doing practice problems in the class room. In the ELC the client does not give you a grade, they tell you what they like and do not like. Having the pressure of delivering what the client asks in the one semester time frame is stressful and more work than most classes. After the final presentation, when you completed all the work the client asked it is much more rewarding than getting an A in a course.

My advice for future students is to expect to work hard. Make sure that your schedule allows you to meet outside of class a lot because you will. You will have to be a team player, this is not a class where you can blow it off and take the C. If you blow this off you will be kicked off the team and let your team down. You are going to have a lot of responsibility but the experience you gain is worth it. I talk about my experience with the ELC in every interview and have landed a great job right out of college in part because of the experience I have gained from working with the ELC.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An Assistant Coach Perspective: Matt

Participating in the Experiential Learning Center as a team member was eye opening and the resulting professional developments have been critical as I progress through the upper level classes of my major. Additionally in interviews for jobs and internships the confidence that I show based of subjects and situations that I dealt with set me above my competition. Because of the growth I saw from being a team member I wanted to have the opportunity to be an assistant coach and develop my leadership skills further.

As an assistant coach for the Jewel-Osco project I have had some great opportunities to learn how to recognize how a cross functional team works from a higher level. The experience has helped me develop an eye to recognize situations within a team such as members who are holding back, shy, overloaded, or dominating in group meetings. Because I have developed more leadership skills I am more confident and able to be the leader I want to be moving into my future career.

When it comes to being involved with the Experiential Learning Center in any capacity there are few things that will go a long way to improving that experience. I would say that the major three things that cause some trouble are:

• Poor time Management

• Procrastination

• Unreal work expectations

If you can manage these challenges your experience in the Experiential learning center will be much more satisfying and you will see more growth as a result.