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Published: Wednesday, 4/19/2006

Clay students eye way up business ladder

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Budding entrepreneur Nick Wasserman hopes to one day follow in his father s footsteps, and believes there s no time like the present to start.

Late last year, the 17-year-old senior at Clay High School in Oregon set to work writing a 10-page business plan centered around the business his father owns Pinnacle Technology Group Inc. of Toledo for his marketing education class.

For at least awhile, I ve wanted to be a businessman and own my own company, he said, adding that he s been working his way up the ladder at Pinnacle for the last three years. I always wanted to take over my dad s business.

His business plan is written as if Pinnacle s Toledo location has consolidated with the Ann Arbor location, which is something the company is talking about, said Anna Diekman, Clay s marketing teacher.

After Mr. Wasserman s plan won first place at the Distributive Education Clubs of America district competition, he and partner Kelly Pence, 17, a senior, added an additional 20 pages to the business plan to compete in the Entrepreneurship Written competition at the state level.

Thirty pages seems like a lot, but with all the information we had, it was almost not enough, Mr. Wasserman said.

Ms. Diekman said she was excited about the international competition because she s never had two students earn a place higher than fourth in the Entrepreneurship Written event.

Miss Pence said the biggest challenge with the project was getting the plan to come together.

It took a long time, she said. We ve been working on it since before Christmas time, so it took months to put together, but we wanted the experience.

The pair ended up winning second place at the state competition and earned a spot in the International DECA Entrepreneurship Written competition in Dallas.

That was always in the back of my mind, Mr. Wasserman said. I figured if I put a lot of effort into it, I could get there.

But before the international competition was in the realm of possibility, Mr. Wasserman knew he needed help in creating his first business plan, so he tapped into the experience of Aggie Dahar, senior adviser for Toledo s Small Business Development Center, along with his dad and banking officials.

Ms. Dahar said she has helped Clay DECA students in the past with their initial plans by listening to their concepts and giving them areas to research based on what they will have to know to create a business plan.

She then follows up with them to look over their rough draft to explain where they need more detail or what they might consider changing.

I question them so that everything in the business plan is as realistic as possible, she said. Then I do the financial projections for them because that is a service I do for businesses.

But she stressed that it is important for the students she s helping to understand the finances because they re asked questions at the state and international levels.

It can t be just me doing the financials, she said. They have to have a complete understanding of profit loss and cash flow because the judges will ask. I was amazed at how quickly Nick understood all of this. It s unusual for someone in high school. I really think he has the makings of a true entrepreneur.

Three other students will be joining Miss Pence and Mr. Wasserman for two different reasons at the competition that will run from tomorrow until May 6.

Marketing students Jessica Langel and Ciera Gillard will be competing in this year s new business law and ethics event after placing first in both the district and state levels. We both want to be attorneys, and we just both like law, said Miss Gillard, 18, a senior.

Senior Wes Taylor, 17, was one of 10 people chosen in Ohio to attend the conference as an international voting delegate to talk to people running for national DECA offices.

Trophies and financial awards are given for high scorers at the international competition.



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