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03-28-2014

Clarkson University Students Shine in Free Enterprise Marathon

Clarkson University students brought home first place awards in this year's Free Enterprise Marathon held in early March at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Left to right: Creativity & Innovation Team Competition winners Bryce Bandish, Joe Siracuse, Kevin O'Connor, and Luke Dionne, and Speak Off winner Matthew Flynn.Matthew Flynn won the two-part Speak Off, and Bryce Bandish, Joe Siracuse, Kevin O'Connor, and Luke Dionne won the Creativity & Innovation Team Competition.

Students from 12 colleges and universities in New York and Vermont tested their business knowledge, logic, creativity, and presentation skills for this day-long event.

“I respect and value free enterprise, so this hits close to home for me,” said Army ROTC cadet and Clarkson senior Flynn of Canton, N.Y., who had three to five minutes to speak on the topic of need for more entrepreneurs. Flynn earned $100 as winner of the Speak Off and another $700 for the overall win in Plattsburgh.

“It was an exciting, proud moment to see the students use resources and think critically,” said Clarkson Reh Center for Entrepreneurship Director of Operations Erin Draper, who advised the students. "The real-world aspect of the challenge resonated so well with our students. They could see that they could make an impact and they really enjoyed it.”

The Creativity & Innovation team consisted of junior Bryce Bandish of East Dummerston, Vt., junior Joe Siracuse of Clarence, N.Y., senior Kevin O'Connor of Delanson, N.Y. and senior Luke Dionne of Acton, Maine. The teams were given their challenge on the morning of the competition. They had the day to do research, and could call outside for information, but were not allowed to turn to their advisers.

Their task was to come up with a new, feasible product for the already highly successful Adirondack Grilling Pellets. Owners Mike and Colleen Lemza combine fruit and sawdust into flavored grilling pellets for this Keeseville-based business. The team had five minutes to make their presentation and three minutes to answer questions from the judges.

“Our team proposed a new burgundy wine pellet," said Draper. "They suggested partnering with a local vineyard to integrate grape waste with sawdust to create a new line of barbecue pellets. They called a local vineyard and researched the costs for acquiring and shipping waste to the factory. They even called Home Depot in Houston to ask packaging questions. It was exciting to see the team come together to create a winning solution.”

The Free Enterprise Marathon was coordinated by SUNY Plattsburgh Distinguished Service Professor & Marketing Chair Nancy J. Church. Judges were Bob Parks, Press-Republican; Dan Alexander, Denton Publications; Hannah Provost, Glens Falls National Bank; and Colleen Lemza, Adirondack Grilling Pellets.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University students brought home first place awards in this year's Free Enterprise Marathon. Left to right: Creativity & Innovation Team Competition winners Bryce Bandish, Joe Siracuse, Kevin O'Connor, and Luke Dionne, and Speak Off winner Matthew Flynn.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/free-enterprise-2014.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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