A diverse group of St. Clair College students and their dynamic ideas to modernize a small-town café recently earned them $10,000 in prize money at the Odette-Peddie Amherstburg Case Challenge.
Earlier this year, the Odette School of Business in partnership with Dr. Richard Peddie launched a case competition between the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business and St. Clair College’s Zekelman School of Business. The challenge issued to the student groups was to develop and present innovative business strategies to enhance the profitability and appearance of the Downtown Espresso Café in Amherstburg.
The prize for winning the six-team inter-collegiate competition was $5,000. As a caveat, the Stephanie and Barry Zekelman Foundation committed another $5,000 to the winner’s pot if a team from St. Clair College won. Competing teams submitted a final report before they laid out their ideas in person during a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation followed by a 10-minute question and answer session.
After final presentations were given on Nov. 22, Team 1 from St. Clair College captained by ENACTUS St. Clair president Trevor Ramieri was selected as the winner of the contest and coveted $5K in prize money, plus the bonus $5K awarded by the Zekelman Foundation.
"The value of both the prize money and the ability for us to put this in our portfolio and reference it is very high to each of us," Ramieri said. "It's not a fictional study or assignment you can get an 'A' on. They chose our design and our strategies, and this will be implemented. That is a very unique experience."
Ramieri, a Culinary Management graduate and current second year Landscape Horticulture student, recruited a team of St. Clair College students with a diverse range of skills, consisting of Bethany D'Alimonte from Marketing, Samantha Hollinsky from Graphic Design as well as two Interior Design students - Cen Shen and Noor Al-Qaranghuli.
"I'm confident saying we were the most program-diverse team that applied," said Ramieri. "We were able to add so many more dimensions to our presentation because of the way our team members were looking at things. We all brought insight to the table."
Renee D'Amore is co-owner of Downtown Espresso Café in Amherstburg, which opened in 1992 when co-owner Remo D'Amore was 18 years old. D'Amore said she and husband Remo did not know which school each team were from but were admittedly blown away at the level of professionalism and unique options presented by the winning group from St. Clair.
"They hit a lot of the criteria we were looking for and came up with a lot of creative ideas and bold moves,” D'Amore said. "They also gave us two options to choose from and described what each option would look like, which we really appreciated. You can tell they went above and beyond to present us with those extra possibilities.”
Stephanie Zekelman, trustee of the Zekelman Foundation, said this is not only a win for St. Clair College but for the entire community of Amherstburg and Downtown Espresso Café.
"It is wonderful to see the experiential learning opportunity this challenge created, applying lessons learned in class to real-life situations and helping local business thrive in the process,” said Zekelman. "They also gained experience pitching ideas as if they were at a boardroom table, which is a valuable life skill for these students. This is a proud victory for St. Clair, and we look forward to being involved in this annual competition."
- Brett Hedges