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Experiential Learning Center

Projects ~ 2011

True Value Company

true value Topic: Store Performance Analysis
Faculty Coach: James Johnson

A clear direction for growth and success. With a new store format steering their future, True Value Company is on the move and growing. They put their retailers' success at the heart of everything they do. True Value's competitive edge: An organization with $1.8 billion-plus in annual revenue, more than 60,000 products, 12 distribution centers and extensive buying power. The give all the tools their entrepreneur-retailers need to be the best and have a presence worldwide. True Value's cooperative serves 54 countries with more than 5,000 stores and 3,000 associates. Many of their 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, their 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.

True Value engaged an ELC team to analyze the sales performance of 150 Destination True Value stores (new store format) and to recommend sales and margin opportunities to help stores improve their profitability. www.truevalue.com

Junior League of DuPage and Kane Co.
~ Sponsored by McKesson

Topic: Comprehensive Social Media Strategy
Junior League of DuPage and Kane CoFaculty Coach: Joan Petros

The Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties, Inc. (JLKD) is a hands-on, volunteer organization comprised of approximately 200 women from throughout DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties in Illinois who share a commitment to helping children at risk in our communities. Members, reflecting a wide range of backgrounds, interests and professional pursuits, work together to identify unmet needs, forge effective coalitions and work for positive change.

The women of JLKD believe that all children should have access to the opportunities and services essential for their physical, intellectual, emotional, mental and social growth, and advocate as needed to ensure these needs are met. Each year, JLKD conduct a variety of community outreach programs focused on building dreams, promoting literacy, and improving self-esteem among children in their communities. Additionally, trained volunteers donate thousands of hours to other community organizations focused on helping at-risk youth. JLKD also supports numerous community partners throughout their four-county service area by collecting greatly needed necessities ranging from baby wipes to batteries.

The Junior League asked an ELC team to define and create a comprehensive social media strategy and evaluate the current JLKD website (www.jlkd.org) and make recommendations for an ongoing digital presence.

This non-profit project was sponsored by the generous funding of McKesson.


Jewel Osco

Topic: Customer Attraction and Retention
Coach: Mark Rosenbaum

Currently, Jewel-Osco operates 183 stores across the Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. Jewel-Osco has a very devoted and loyal customer base. The most loyal customers have been shopping with Jewel-Osco for many years now and enjoy our traditional stores and ways of operating. Jewel-Osco understands that current customers' shopping patterns are starting to change as the needs and habits of households change over time. In order for Jewel-Osco to ensure longevity and relevance in an ever changing market and technologically advanced time, they need to determine how to adapt to the needs of future generations while maintaining their current customer base. Jewel-Osco recognizes the opportunities that exist to connect with this new type of shopper, and make them Jewel-Osco shoppers for life.

Jewel-Osco engaged an ELC team to look for ideas, suggestions, and recommendations on how to attract and retain the 15-30 year old consumers to Jewel-Osco for their primary supermarket shopping trips. Their goal was to be top of mind when shoppers think quality products, customer service, and expanded variety. The ELC team developed recommendations and a plan of implementation with projected costs associated with it. www.jewelosco.com

McDonald's Project #1

McDonaldsTopic: IT Talent Management
Coach: Lauren Labrecque

McDonald's is one of the world's most well-known and valuable brands. With over 31,000 restaurants in 118 countries, McDonald's serves over 50 million people each day. McDonald's want to get the best people that can lead technology in a world class brand. People that one day will lead the company at officer and CIO level. McDonald's utilized an ELC team to help them with recommendations on how to identify, attract, incent and retain this IT talent.

McDonald's Project #2

McDonaldsTopic: IT Foundation Improvements: Measuring & Meeting Customer Needs
Coach: Tamara Phelan

McDonald's is one of the world's most well-known and valuable brands. With over 31,000 restaurants in 118 countries, McDonald's serves over 50 million people each day. McDonald's IT Foundation business unit would like to engage a team of students to identify and track needs of its customers.

McDonald's IT Foundation business unit engaged a team of students to identify and track the needs of its customers. As a service organization, it is essential that IT Foundation find ways to better engage with its customers and identify and track their changing needs. In order to build a reputation as a proactive, on-trend customer service provider, the IT Foundation department needed insight into who uses its services and tools, and how they use them. In turn, IT Foundation must learn how to respond to complex customer needs through meaningful metrics and appropriate reporting and they need to be able to tie this information back to how they work today in the McDonald's workplace.

NIU College of Business Experiential Learning Center

NIUTopic: Strategic Marketing Plan
Coach: Chris Millington (retired McDonald's executive)

Northern Illinois University's College of Business Experiential Learning Center (ELC) is a consulting center that provides opportunities for select NIU student teams, with the guidance of a faculty member, a chance to work as consultants that solve real world business issues with an actual client.

The ELC engaged its own consulting team to create a strategic marketing plan that provided recommendations for improving the website, marketing materials, social media presence, and process for engaging students and corporate project sponsors. The ELC team designed a plan and template for a new ELC website to bring the marketing plan to life.

Frantz Manufacturing

Topic: New Product Development
Coach: Jim Johnson & John Wonak / Assistant Coach: Eric Zborowski

Frantz Manufacturing Company and its Sterling Steel Ball division, located in Sterling, Illinois, is a manufacturer and marketer of conveyor system components and steel ball products used in a variety of commercial business applications. Frantz Manufacturing Company was chartered 101 years ago as "A general manufacturing business for the purpose of manufacturing and selling various kinds of inventions and specialties constructed of metal, wood, or other materials". Throughout its history, Frantz has been an innovator in the various product categories which it has chosen to compete.

Frantz had completed some preliminary work in developing a consumer oriented Sterling Steel Ball product line and needed further development of the concept, a preliminary business plan, and concept test marketing. A cross functional ELC team was responsible to evaluate the concept, bring it to the market and for testing its viability.

Northern Illinois University - University Relations

Topic: Social Media Student Recruitment Strategy
Coach: Joan Petros / Assistant Coach: Caitlin Paloian

The mission of the Division of University Relations at Northern Illinois University is to develop a brand identity and a corresponding marketing strategy for NIU which would allow NIU to compete and flourish despite increasing higher education options for potential students - community colleges, quality private colleges and universities, as well as public universities in the region.

The Division of University Relations Web Communications team engaged an ELC team to assist with the continued development of NIU's social media initiatives. The project included reviewing past initiatives, determining if ROI could be accurately measured and developing future web marketing/recruitment strategies geared towards incoming students. Web Communications sought the development of a long term recruitment/engagement plan(s) for social media at the university, including analysis of trending platforms for possible use by the university.

Northern Illinois University - BELIEF

Topic: Resource repository, website and marketing strategy
Coach: Sheila Kloster / Assistant Coach: Lakshmi Archana Mahindrakar

The NIU College of Business BELIEF Initiative stands for Building Ethical Leaders using an Integrated Ethics Framework. This systematic approach to integrating ethics into the college curriculum was officially launched during the Fall 2006 term. The BELIEF Initiatives' learning objectives of identifying ethical issues and applying a decision-making framework are also integrated into subsequent classes in all disciplines throughout the college.

The BELIEF team asked an ELC team to create an electronic repository of ethics resources. The team responded by building a repository that included links to ethics resources for faculty and students along with other potential information and references. In addition, the ELC team created a marketing strategy to build student and faculty awareness.

Sears Holdings Corporation

Topic: Analysis of Digital Device Applications
Coach: Tamara Phelan / Assistant Coach: Tyler Eble

Sears Holdings Corporation is the nation's fourth largest broadline retailer with approximately 3,900 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada. Sears Holdings is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics and automotive repair and maintenance. Sears Holdings is the 2010 ENERGY STARŪ Retail Partner of the Year. Key proprietary brands include Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard, and a broad apparel offering, including such well-known labels as Lands' End, Jaclyn Smith and Joe Boxer, as well as the Apostrophe and Covington brands. It also has the Country Living collection, which is offered by Sears and Kmart. They are the nation's largest provider of home services, with more than 12 million service calls made annually. Sears Holdings Corporation operates through its subsidiaries, including Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart Corporation.

Sears Holdings tasked an ELC team to conduct an evaluation of the application of digital devices in a retail environment and the associated risks (privacy/other), benefits and contingencies.

Office Max

Topic: Asset Management
Coach: Amit Patel / Assistant Coach: Caleb Phelps

OfficeMax is a leading supplier of office products including office supplies, paper, technology products and services, and furniture. The organization serves enterprise-level, mid-size and small businesses, and individual customers through direct sales, catalogs, the Internet and at nearly 1,000 superstores.

Office Max asked an ELC team to develop an asset management strategy that would enable OfficeMax to effectively maximize its financial investments in the area of Infrastructure technology and security. Key project deliverables included: Asset inventory list/asset tracking, Asset ownership, Asset life cycle/versioning, Provisioning policies, and a 5 year financial forecast.

McDonald's Corporation

Topic: Customer Digital Engagement Strategy Development
Coach: Mark Rosenbaum / Assistant Coach: Aaron Marzal

McDonald's is one of the world's most well-known and valuable brands. With 30,000 local restaurants in more than 119 countries, McDonald's serves nearly 50 million people each day. McDonald's was interested in exploring how technology can shape the experience of their customers at the restaurants in the next five to ten years. The ELC team explored various up and coming technologies, the creative ways that these technologies could be used, and the impact these technologies can have on the restaurants and the customer experience.


Topic: Business Analysis and Planning
Coach: Stacey Short / Assistant Coach: Alyssa Everley

Nest is a nonprofit organization that empowers female artists and artisans around the world. Using a unique combination of interest-free microfinance loans, mentoring from established designers, as well as a market in which to sell their crafts, Nest helps its loan recipients create successful small businesses. Nest requested an ELC team to provide a thorough business analysis and plan for possibly splitting two business units of Nest due to rapid growth of the retail side of their craft based business. The ELC team provided recommendations and a business plan to Nest to see if one business unit should still remain a non-profit and spin off the other business unit as a for profit venture www.buildanest.com.

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