Family-owned M-D Building Products Inc. has named a new president. The Oklahoma-based company develops, manufactures and markets a range of residential and commercial weatherization, flooring, caulking and specialty extrusion products.
Following its centennial anniversary, the company appointed Ryan Plotkin, MBA ’16, who plans to “take M-D to the next level” under his leadership by fostering innovation and efficiency, according to the company’s press release. As president, Plotkin will “lead operational growth plans surrounding the consumer products, specified extrusion manufacturing and professional flooring divisions.”
In the release, the company’s board indicated that it enthusiastically supported Plotkin’s appointment, citing his focus, energy and commitment to driving progress within the company.
Plotkin held the position of chief operating officer after his graduation from Olin’s MBA program. He has been with M-D Building Products since the company hired him as a global business manager in 2008.
Shares of JOANN Inc. jumped nearly 5% on their first day of trading after the arts and crafts retailer raised $130.8 million in an initial public offering. The fabric and craft retailer is led by CEO Wade Miquelon, MBA ’89.
The company is listed on NASDAQ under the symbol JOAN. It announced its intention to go public in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on February 16.
Although the company suffered from declining revenues before the pandemic, a rise in at-home crafting and sewing has prompted a 38% growth in sales since May 2020.
Miquelon told Forbes magazine that the pandemic is not the only contributor to the spike in sales. He said the company has been able to play into “solid trends” of “more do-it-yourself, a lot more personalization, and major movements on market exchanges like Etsy and Shopify” that have been building over the past few years.
He also mentioned JOANN’s success in offering curbside pickup, supporting its online purchase options. According to Marketwatch, the company announced IPO terms on March 4, indicating its plan to offer 10.9 million shares at between $15 and $17 a share.
Although JOANN’s recent growth has been impressive, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business, the question for potential investors could be whether Joann can can successfully convert growth to net income, whether the market will keep growing, and whether the company will continue to drive down its debt.
However, JOANN’s transition into public offering is an opportunity for investors to gain a foothold in the craft and sewing market. Hopefully, consumers and investors alike will be able to capitalize on the recent rise in sales for JOANN, and enjoy reconnecting with at-home projects like sewing and crafting during this isolated time.
The company had 855 retail locations as of January 30 and a database of more than 69 million customers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn caused internship cancellations, WashU Olin and the Center for Experiential Learning stepped up to provide summer learning opportunities for students while supporting St. Louis-based businesses. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Akio Yahiro Korte, MBA ’21, who worked on competitive landscape analysis for Capacity.
Over the 2020 summer, I worked on the CEL summer project, a seven-week consulting opportunity to help a client with their business needs. In my case, the client was a privately held startup company that wanted help with its competitive landscape analysis. Capacity, our client, was really excited and passionate about sharing information with us, so we could give them the best recommendations possible.
This project sharpened my project management, planning and coordination toolkit. From a technical perspective, this project has refined my competitor analysis and marketing skills. I also helped the team using my finance background when appropriate.
Our team lived on a weekly cycle. Weeks started with a one hour class on Monday. Client meetings occurred every Wednesday afternoon. Client meetings were earmarked for one hour, but we always went over due to great client engagement.
Since team members were working virtually across three different time zones, we sporadically set up team huddles to address timely needs. Typically, a team member would spend several hours a week working on a specific function (think deep diving a competitor’s entire marketing strategy).
From a team leader perspective, it’s always great to work with new and diverse teams. I worked with a healthy blend of graduates and undergraduates sprinkled with different business disciplines (finance, entrepreneurship, consulting, marketing). I worked with five other students—and I was thoroughly impressed with each of them.
Particularly thinking about the undergraduate students on my team, there were people who hadn’t had previous work experience. So for the first time, they were talking directly with business owners and leaders—and they really stepped up to the plate, asked detailed questions and shared their expertise. It was a huge win for those students—it wasn’t an experience you could get anywhere else.
Client interactions were a big win. Capacity went above and beyond by letting us talk with different business leaders. Even though this was a marketing project, we talked with leaders in finance, sales, and execution. We even got the opportunity to talk directly with the CEO, David Karandish, BSCS ’05.
Not only is David a WashU alum, he also sold the parent company to Answers.com before starting Capacity. David had some very cool stories to tell, everything from writing a text-to-speech app around his high school years to being on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.”
In addition to answering questions to help the team with the CEL project, he had some parting words of wisdom for future leaders: keep morale up by being transparent, keep one foot in present reality while keeping another in future potential (be the bridge between the two realities). We were honored to spend this time working closely with the client, learning from their perspective and providing recommendations.
This has been a very interesting experience from a project management perspective. The project’s scope shifted several times, another team merged into mine, not to mention working virtually across different time zones always poses unique limitations. But the team successfully adapted to meet these challenges head-on. This resilience is a hallmark of the quintessential Olin business student.
This is the second successful team project that I have led while at WashU. Given the great experiences both projects and teams have been, I am contemplating doing at least one more this coming academic year.
Inc. magazine released its definitive ranking of the top 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States, a list that has given national exposure and recognition to now-ubiquitous companies such as Zappos, Patagonia and even Microsoft for the first time.
The Inc. 5000, released in August, one of the most prestigious rankings in the nation for independent small businesses, placed Cage Point LLC—founded by Shattuck Groome, MBA ’00—No. 44 on the 2020 list.
Cage Point LLC is a media agency that specializes in research, communications planning and targeted media across all platforms. Their strategy is a people-focused approach, connecting brands to their target audience through media and data driven technology.
Groome said making the Inc. 5000 “reinforces (Cage Point’s) dedication to forming true partnerships with clients.”
Cage Point LLC made the Inc. 5000 by exhibiting an unprecedented three-year revenue growth of 6,467%. This places it above the median growth rate for the Inc. 5000 list, which lands at 165%.
The latest ranking of global full-time MBA programs from the Financial Times, released overnight, placed WashU Olin at No. 25, its best-ever showing in the international ranking and a substantial increase from its 2020 ranking. The magazine’s ranking puts Olin among the top 12 US-based full-time MBA programs.
As Poets & Quants noted in its coverage of the 2021 FT ranking, “Washington University’s Olin School soared 19 places to rank 25th in the world, its highest FT ranking ever. Five years ago, the school’s MBA program ranked 80th on the FT list.”
Indeed, WashU Olin has seen a steady rise in the FT ranking since that 80th-place ranking in 2016, coming in at 54 in 2019 and 44 last year.
“This is extraordinary validation for the hard work of our staff and faculty at WashU Olin,” said Dean Mark P. Taylor. “The last four years have seen a lot of new strategic initiatives including relaunching our MBA, strengthening our already outstanding faculty, restructuring our career center and launching our Center for Digital Education, and these are all factors contributing to the continuing success of the school.”
Olin saw marked increases in its placement in a number of categories of the Financial Times ranking, including research (where Olin placed first among global MBA programs), international mobility and salary percentage increase.
The top five in the Financial Times 2021 ranking included France’s Insead, London Business School, the University of Chicago and—tied at fourth place—Spain’s Iese Business School and Yale School of Management. Three of last year’s FT top-five—Harvard, Wharton and Stanford—chose not to participate in this year’s Financial Times ranking.