Mock ag business gives real life lessons

BOTKINS — Students in Chad Berning’s Botkins High School agricultural business class recently learned first-hand some of the ins-and-outs of starting an agricultural-related business.

For a class assignment, students were to develop detailed plans to open a business from the ground up. All of the ideas were presented to  the class, with classmates choosing the top four. The top four in turn presented their plans a second time to Botkins Village Administrator Jesse Kent, who selected an overall best presentation.

The four winners were Derek Shaffer, Hannah Koch, Michaela Kramer and Rachelle Maurer. Out of the four, Kent chose Shaffer’s presentation as the best. The winners did not receive much tangible for their presentations, but they did receive plenty of immeasurable knowledge.

“I feel like I learned a lot,” said Kramer, a Botkins High School junior. “It was a real-life experience. We got a better understanding of what business is in real life.”

The presentations had to include details regarding running a business, including an introduction, mission statement, goals, policies, company description, management plan, operating plan, marketing plan, legal plan, financial plan, locating analysis, business regulations, required capital and financial requirements. The project was a 14-page report to meet the requirements of the assignment.

Shaffer did his presentation on Shaffer Show Supplies, specializing in providing livestock show supplies to customers.

“I think what set my presentation apart was having a customized product,” Shaffer said. “”I customized products to fit the special needs of customers.”

Shaffer said the project turned out to be more difficult than he had originally thought it might be.

“You had to be able to work everything together,” Shaffer said. “You had to be able to make everything work together and still make a profit.”

Koch also did her project on show supplies, naming her business Koch Show Supply.

“I have been involved with it, so I knew what customers would want,” Koch said. “I was most proud of my marketing and advertising plan. I think my plan really got my business out there so it could be successful.

Koch said the most difficult part of the project was making it work out financially.

“That was the biggest struggle,” Koch said. “You had to take out loans, find buildings and locations, and be able to pay employees.”

Kramer and Maurer ended up doing their project together, as both were working on a nursery and landscaping business. They melded their ideas together.

Maurer said their business provided just about everything involved with the landscaping business. Items provided included flowers, trees, decorative rocks and virtual computerized visuals of what a project would look like to their customers.

“I think our company motto really stood out,” Maurer said. “Leaf it to us.”

Kramer said she felt their business had the ability to be successful because they planned on having workers specialize in different areas.

“We thought if they worked in a concentrated area, we would have a higher customer satisfaction rate,” Kramer said.

Berning said the project was popular with the students.

“In general the whole class really got into it,” Berning said. “It was a lot of work but they had fun doing it.”

Berning said while Kent did select a winner, he came away very impressed with all four of the students and the time they put into their projects.

“Top to bottom he thought the class did a great job,” Berning said.

“I think it was a great project and great experience,” Kent said. “Going out into a struggling economy, it is important to learn where the money is going. They do great job with the ag program here in Botkins.”