May 3, 2006
Whitworth Team Takes First Place in Regional Business-Plan Competition
Three Whitworth seniors who are weeks away from graduating made significant strides in their post-college career plans when they took first place in the 2005-06 Inland Northwest Regional Business Plan Competition. Winners were announced April 28 during an awards ceremony at Gonzaga University.
More than 200 students from Whitworth, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington University, and Washington State University participated in the competition. Forty-four plans were submitted in three categories: "Student-Generated," "Community-Based," and "Social Enterprise"; three finalists were selected for each category. The winning teams received a total of $42,500 in prize money.
The winning Whitworth team's business plan, "Summit Applied Technologies, Inc.," placed first in the "Community-Based" category. The plan details research and development and marketing aspects for new proprietary products in the plastics industry. Team members Jonathan Carlson and Jeremiah Brack, both double majors in business management and marketing, and Josh Breda, a double major in business management and economics, won $7,500 in prize money and a year of rent-free space offered by the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Summit Applied Technologies, Inc. is a registered company that is a subsidiary of Artisan Industries, Inc., which manufactures plastic components and products. Artisan Industries was founded and is owned by Whitworth alumnus Brad Vardy, '01, who is president of the company, and Joel Yinger and Jerry Walser, who are vice presidents.
The Whitworth team created Summit Applied Technologies, Inc., to develop products that Artisan would manufacture, allowing Artisan to move up the supply chain and realize an added profit margin. By targeting multiple niche markets, Artisan would not compete with its current customers and would still realize significant sales, according to Nigel Davey, entrepreneur-in-residence at Whitworth and advisor to the winning team.
"The Summit Applied Technologies team has shown that it's possible to take a business in which margins are small and competition is intense and, through a process of constant innovation and market development, achieve substantial growth in sales and profitability," Davey says. "The team is a great example of how U.S. manufacturers can compete in markets increasingly dominated by low-cost overseas competitors."
Team members Carlson, Brack and Breda are considering their career options, which now include launching the company they created. The three entrepreneurs will meet with Vardy and Yinger next week to discuss the future of Summit Applied Technologies.
"The company will be launched with or without us," Carlson says. "I'm hopeful that we'll all stay on and start something exciting."
In addition to Summit Applied Technologies' first-place finish, two other Whitworth teams placed in the business-plan competition. Master of International Management Program graduate students Sara Tanzi-Dunham and Rose Ayars won $3,500 in a second-place finish in the "Social Enterprise" category for their "La Plaza" business plan, which details a coffeehouse and retail store that financially support local and global social- and economic-justice ministries.
Whitworth students Anne Briggs, Jason Colvin, Seth Lowe and Amber Matthai won $1,500 in a third-place finish in the "Community-Based" category. The team's plan proposed the manufacture of durable, affordable shelter that can be constructed single-handedly in less than half a day.
"These awards are a further indication of the growing reputation of Whitworth's School of Global Commerce & Management, both in the community and among larger institutions such as Gonzaga, Eastern and Washington State, which are accredited with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business," says Kyle Usrey, dean of the SGCM. "Gonzaga, Eastern and Washington State have more students and resources in business than we do, but we're able to compete straight-up with these schools. I'm very proud of all of our teams and their advisors"
The business-plan competition is sponsored by Gonzaga University's Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program in collaboration with the Eastern Washington University Center for Entrepreneurial Activities and the Whitworth College School of Global Commerce & Management. Major funding for the competition was provided by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation, Itron and Avista Corp.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Kyle Usrey, dean, Whitworth School of Global Commerce & Management, (509) 777-4721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jo Ann Nielsen, associate director, Entrepreneurship/Micro Enterprise Services, Herbert B. Jones grant, School of Global Commerce & Management, Whitworth College, 509-777-3242 or email@example.com.
Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.