MBA students develop export business plans for NC companies

Students in a summer WCU international business class developed export business plans for North Carolina clients.

Students in a summer WCU international business class developed export business plans for North Carolina clients.

International business counselors and representatives from six North Carolina companies said they are impressed with export business plans created for them by Western Carolina University students from the master’s degree program in business administration.

Eleven students developed international market research reports and strategies as part of a summer course taught by Ed Wright, associate professor of global management and strategy, and director of WCU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and through a partnership with the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center.

The reports were for companies such as Equilibar, based in Fletcher, and Microbroo, which is located in Asheville.

Montie Roland, president of Montie Outdoor Gear of Morrisville, said the professional assistance from the student team, which provided international market research for Canada, Germany and Australia, drove the business’s marketing in a new direction.

“Quickly making changes based on their amazingly solid suggestions and market analysis has already increased our sales, internationally and domestically,” said Roland.

Jonathan Szucs, engineering manager from Advanced Superabrasives in Mars Hill, said he was impressed with the ideas and plan that the student in the class presented.

“The amount of information and insight from this project is unmeasurable,” said Szucs.

With the help of Kristin Calvert, WCU electronic resources librarian, the students accessed IBISWorld International’s global industry trends and data to conduct international marketing research.

WCU student Taylor Collins described the class project as one-of-a-kind.

“Having the chance to work with real-world clients to develop business strategies provides an educational opportunity that can’t be found in any normal class,” said Collins.

In addition to Collins, MBA students who worked on the export business plans are Omar E. Smith, Katrina J. Laughter, Jamilyn Wiener, Anthony A. Deckard, Melissa A. Harmon, Justin D. Gragg, Madison Davis, Jonathan S. Kramer, Gabriel Negrea and John S. Reid.

Wendy Cagle, regional center director from the Small Business and Technology Development Center at WCU, said the center is committed to the growth and development of not only regional businesses but also WCU students.

“We are always looking for opportunities to act as a bridge between the needs of our business clients and the resources at the university,” said Cagle.

During the 2013-14 academic year, WCU students spent 9,615 hours assisting 66 SBTDC clients.

“We expect an even greater amount of engagement for (academic year) 2014-15 and would encourage businesses that are interested in participating to contact us,” said Cagle.

For more information about the services the SBTDC provides at no cost, contact Cagle at or visit and sign up as a client.

For more information about WCU’s MBA program, visit