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Graduate students create marketing plans for 12 businesses

May 17, 2022

Staffing agency marketing director: ‘For me to have done that work would have taken a year or more’

The number of job openings in the U.S. is at a series high of 11.5 million, according to a May 3 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Michigan, as the labor market continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the demand for workers remains high, according to a May 2 release from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Given this climate, the importance of staffing agencies cannot be overstated, as these businesses help others find qualified candidates, while also connecting applicants to worthwhile jobs.

One such staffing agency recently partnered with students from the DeVos Graduate School of Management as part of a special senior course, MKT 654: Competitive Strategy and Marketing Practicum.

In this course, a consulting team of DeVos graduate students, guided by MBA faculty with decades of industry experience, work with a business to conduct a strategy and marketing analysis and develop action-orientated recommendations to guide the company in future decision making.

Recently, a team of Northwood students presented its fieldwork to Qualified Staffing, a staffing agency with over 40 offices across the U.S. and Canada, working with over 5,000 Companies, and employing over 200,000 since 1988.

Marketing director: ‘I couldn’t ask for a more perfect situation’

The graduate team working with Qualified Staffing included Dylan Hughes of Troy; Benoit Christiaens of Avelgem, Belgium; Parker Hayes of Beaverton; and Cody Hyde of Saint Johns. They presented their findings to Qualified Staffing Human Resources Director Tammy Betts and Senior Marketing Director Ed Nicolas.

Specifically, the team set out to determine how Qualified Staffing interacts with its clients verse its competitors; and what type of technologies, brand value, and resources its competitors offer. As part of their research, students embarked on some secret shopping efforts that involved five Qualified Staffing branches and four of its competitors. They also did extensive research to compare Qualified Staffing’s website to its competitors.

The team identified areas Qualified Staffing exceeds its competitors, as well as areas that need improvement. They then presented suggestions for website and process improvements (including prioritizing which recommendations are most actionable).

When asked whether the information presented will impact Qualified Staffing’s organization, Nicolas stated: “You have no idea. Absolutely no idea … For me to have done that work would have taken a year or more.”

The team’s professor, Dr. Matthew O’Connor was impressed by the research the team presented.

“The depth and command of the data (presented from the team) was incredible, and that takes a lot of work and a lot of energy,” O’Connor stated. “It’s not always the most glamourous work … but it is essential.”

Nicolas credited Northwood University for giving the team the ability to be independent and self-directed. He was pleased that the whole process required little participation from Qualified Staffing.

“We basically threw out a nugget of information and said ‘go,’” Nicolas noted. “… We remained as hands-off as possible; the school let you become a self-directed team; and you guys came back with such fruitful information.”

“…I couldn’t ask for a more perfect situation,” he added.

Eleven other teams partner with businesses this semester

The above team is just one of several the DeVos School of Management conducted over the past 16 weeks. Other teams included:

  • Mikayla Philip of Frankenmuth; Austin Scheffer of Canton; Katie Scott of Lake Ann; Ellie Taylor of Midland; and Lauryn Wisner of Blanchard, whom all worked with Mabs Atomic Mustard. 

  • Vasilisa Mikhailova of Moscow, Russia; Bert Nagy of Rochester Hills; Dylan Powers of Saline; Grant Smith of Lakeland; and Grace Stuart of Owasso, whom all worked with Great Harvest Bread Company. 

  • Jessica Kursinksy of Sandusky; Dallas Longstreth of Beaverton; Raegan Sharp of New Lothrop; Devon Shook of Grand Rapids; and Ekaterina Vorobeva from Naberezhnye Chelny, Russia, whom all worked with United Way of Midland County. 

  • Bob Love of Clio; Josiah Morse of Essexville; Shane Oskvarek and Logen Rosenbrock, both from Midland; and Colette Morris of Gladwin, whom all worked with Dispo. 

  • Monica LeDuc of Fenton; Kaehla Manly of Chelsea; Elaine Murray of Roscommon; and Elizaveta Velichko of Sochi, Russia, whom all worked with Crazy Vines. 

  • Sydney Byrd of Romeo; Erin Haskell of Meridian; Jared LaRue of Warren; and Alex Marashai of Farmington, whom all worked with St. Julian Winery and Distillery. 

  • Erica Breitling of Linden; Chase Clark of Grand Blanc; and Trevor Davis of Midland, all of whom worked with Taco Universe. 

  • Parker Aho of Bay City; Shayna Frank of Monroe; Michael Mentis of Tübingen, Germany; and Savannah Wallace of Midland, whom all worked with Applied Training Solutions.

  • Jack Ammerman of Ann Arbor; Parker Blust of Lake Orion; and Clare McGuire of Clarence, New York, whom all worked with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan and Indiana. 

  • Carson Clark of Midland; Andrea Everett and Delanie Grundman, both of Hartland; and Anneliese Hummel from Carson City, whom all worked with Hurley Medical Center. 

  • Wyatt Adams of Kalamazoo; Colin Campbell of Traverse City; and Taylor Timoszyk of Romeo, whom all worked with Colton RV.

Opportunities for other businesses to partner with Northwood students

There is a long history of Northwood consulting teams delivering highly insightful and actionable recommendations that create real value for businesses.

Businesses are matched with teams each fall. Companies that are interested in working with the next cohort of graduate students can email Dr. Matthew O’Connor at and/or Kennedy Cripps, the marketing, innovation and operations manager for the DeVos Graduate School of Management, at .

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