Students in a special Strategic Marketing course this spring have the opportunity to work as business consultants for H.E. Williams – a Carthage, Mo.-based company that has manufactured and sold lighting fixtures around the country for more than 60 years.

A recent class session allowed the students to quiz company officials on the types of sales force they employ, their marketing message and sales strategies.

Students in the Strategic Marketing course are working with H.E. Williams this semester.

Students in the Strategic Marketing course are working with H.E. Williams this semester.

“It’s a class we offer every spring,” said Dr. John Groesbeck, dean of the School of Business who team teaches the course with Dr. Chris Moos. “The students have to apply for admission and then work as consultants, focusing on the company’s needs. They take a tour, complete projects for the company and assess their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

“They give a final presentation in the company’s boardroom in front of their president and CEO, who will then have the opportunity to engage the students and ask them questions.”

In past years, the class has worked with Wal-Mart, Leggett & Platt and Con-way Truckload.

Elisa Heinamaa, a junior international business and management major from Finland, said she appreciates the opportunity to gain “real life” business experience from the course.

“You get to work with a business and hear what they have to say,” she said. “And if we come up with something good, then they have something that they can take away from it.”

Phil Slinkard, CFO for H.E. Williams, said that the course marks the first time since he’s been with the company that such a partnership has been established. He said the semester-long class could be a win-win situation for the students and the company.

“Not having had this kind of interaction, there are skill sets that get lost when experience takes over rather than training,” he said. “There are a lot of things we learned in school that we’ve forgotten, so it will be good to get some fresh perspective.”