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Taking care of business
MBA competition benefits students, entrepreneurs

June 25, 2007
By Breanne Smith

A new pool seemed like the perfect investment for Mick Amicone, owner of The Fieldhouse, a Zanesville sports complex.

Photo by Maria AverionThat is, until his business consultants -- a team of Ohio University MBA students -- arrived on the scene and suggested a radical proposal: Sink the idea for the pool, and think about building a new indoor field instead.

This saved not only time and money, but maybe his business as well, Amicone said.

"I was passionately going to plow ahead with my plan," he said. "They saved me probably at least $351,000."

Team members' novel idea also won them first place in the university's Master of Business Administration Spring Business Consulting Competition.

The annual competition pairs MBA students with high-potential, high-growth companies from throughout Southeast Ohio to provide business consulting services. The team that adds the most value to its assigned business wins $2,000. Second- and third-place finishers receive $1,000 and $500, respectively.

Team leader Amanda Fark and members Peter Berman, Shafer Brown and Simone Phipps shared the top prize.

"Winning is just the icing on the cake," Fark said. "We wanted to add value for our client."

The Fieldhouse has a family focus and offers day care, exercise equipment, a therapy pool and numerous other fitness and sports amenities. Its 15,000-square-foot roller hockey rink was failing to serve the community in the ways that co-owners Amicone and his wife, Harriet, had anticipated.

The couple was considering using the space for an indoor pool, but through general membership and community surveys, the MBA team determined that there was not much local support for a pool. Also, the cost of pool upkeep would be much higher than that of an indoor multipurpose field, which is what the team recommended he construct instead. 

The Fieldhouse has already started planning the renovations necessary to convert the space for youth soccer, baseball, football and hockey. The consulting team also managed to bring projected improvement costs down from $850,000 to $100,000, Amicone said.

"We work with a lot of clients. But the nature of the competition and short timeline really made us get closer to the clients than we ever have before," said team member Shafer Brown. "Their survival was our survival. There was really a sense of bonding. I learned that you can turn a business experience into a life experience."

The competition divided this year's MBA class of 42 students into 10 teams, which worked with their businesses for four weeks. The contest was organized by the Appalachian Regional Entrepreneurship Group of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs in partnership with the College of Business.

Students provided some 2,500 hours of consulting services, including assistance with business planning, operational efficiencies, financing, marketing and information systems.

The competition is one aspect of Ohio University's integrated master of business administration program, which integrates hands-on business experience with classroom learning.

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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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