Culver Academies students taking the entrepreneurial economics class get a taste of real world marketing when they are faced with a corporate challenge through The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur.
March 12, 2013
Red Gold's David Halt Jr. (left)  and Colt Reichart '01 (right) with winning students Zach Merrick, Maureen Reed, and Yann Van de Velde. Culver photo/Lew Kopp

Red Gold’s David Halt Jr. (left) and Colt Reichart ’01 (right) with winning students Zach Merrick, Maureen Reed, and Yann Van de Velde. Culver photo/Lew Kopp

This year, saw 21 Rubin entrepreneurs traveling to Red Gold, Inc., a tomato processor headquartered in Elwood, Ind. Students toured facilities, attended briefings, collected sales and marketing data, and heard the “challenge.” That challenge, according Colt Reichart ’01, the company’s media manager, was to find a way to boost sales of its Sacramento juice line without requiring the company to bring in any additional equipment.

After touring the facility on Feb. 22, the student groups were given until March 4 to develop a marketing plan to make the plan more appealing to a younger demographic. The students then presented their ideas to Reichart and Vice President for Sales David Halt Jr.

The winning team of three students would receive $1,000 and the first runner-up would earn $500, which is supplied by the company. The students donate most of the winnings to local charities. After hearing the seven teams, Halt and Reichart chose Maureen Reed ’14 (Lafayette, Ind.), Zach Merrick ’13 (Salem, Wis.), and Yann Van de Velde ’13 (Ann Arbor, Mich.) as the winning team.

Halt and Reichart said the team provided some interesting ideas, such as updating the products’ packaging and using social media to get customers involved with exchanging recipes. Since fewer children drink tomato juice, the team also suggested going to juice boxes instead of cans.

Halt added there were a lot of takeaways, like the term “’Fun in your hand.’ I don’t know which one of you said that,” Halt said, “but it’s mine now.”

Reichart said the students picking up on the horse and buggy in the Sacramento logo revealed how old fashioned the labeling was. He also thought showing young families using the product as a way to introduce it to children was a strong suggestion.

The runners-up of Trenton Kolden ’13 (Aliso Viejo, Calif.), Tristan Van de Velde ’13 (Ann Arbor, Mich.), and Jose Thompson ’13 (Ensenada, Mexico) went with taking the juice line in a different direction and producing tomato soup. The boys said more people enjoy tomato soup instead of tomato juice, and children are more likely to eat the soup than drink tomato juice.

Their reasons for making the switch was soup was a growing market both globally and in the United States, while tomato juice was shrinking. They also emphasized updating the packaging to attract a younger demographic – especially children – saying “Kids eat with their eyes.” The group also came up with the slogan of “The perfect complement” since tomato soup is usually eaten with something else.

The team also emphasized talking with state government officials about a “Buy Indiana  First” campaign for state institutions such as schools, prisons, and other locations serving food.

Halt said he believed all the teams understood the challenge and had a grasp of what the company is facing. However, he added, he thought the people that used numbers to justify their opinions had the stronger presentations.

He also told the students that they needed to make their presentations with confidence. “That’s just as important as what you have to say,” he said. “Get in front of your audience.” And being confident is important, Halt explained, because “you will do more selling inside the company than outside the company.”

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