Manchester Community College & Marketing

Yesterday was about education. After hearing T. Boone Pickens speak at Goodwin College in the late afternoon, I returned to work for another hour. Then, it was off to Manchester Community College for night school. I participated on a panel of local business leaders that was convened by my friend, Steve Nelson, for his 200 level Marketing course at MCC.

It had been a few years since I set foot on the MCC campus, but like Goodwin, there is a stunning new building. This classroom wasn’t like the basement-windowless-cinderblock one that I occupied for my Shakespeare course at Boston College during the summer of 1994. This classroom was unreal, with a soaring ceiling, glass on three sides, comfy couches, and art work. It was hard to believe that I was at a community college. Both Goodwin, which is private, and MCC are proof that there is massive demand for affordable schools that are close to home and work. They both cater to “non-traditional” students, which is everyone except the typical 17-22 year old who dreams of a four-year education.

The panel was a lot of fun. This is the second time in a month that I have spoken to a group of students at a Connecticut college. My co-panelists were Amy Bergquist, a Hartford based real estate agent, Dagmar Rapp, a marketing manager from Hewlett-Packard, and Ernie Rutt, the owner of Augie & Ray’s Drive In.

Bergquist’s earlier career was spent in operations at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and Anderson Consulting. She expressed her excitement for her current career and highlighted her entrepreneurial ambitions. She may eventuall have her own agency. She loves being a sole-proprietor. Rapp has worked in large companies and HP is one of the largest. She does field marketing and shared some of her tactics for building HP’s brand in the local area. Rutt took over from his father, the founder of their restaurant, and has worked hands on in the business all his career. Augie and Ray’s was founded in East Hartford in 1946, the same year that Horst Engineering was founded and is now in its fourth generation.

Rutt was coming off an amazing day where he hosted T. Boone Pickens for lunch. He was still wearing his special Auge & Ray’s golf shirt made in Oklahoma State colors to honor Pickens.  Yesterday, in advance of the visit, they named one of their most popular sandwiches after Pickens. They don’t have a website, but you can’t buy the public relations that they got when Congressman John Larson brought the Pickens entourage to his favorite lunch spot with the media in tow. Thinking about that kind of photo-op gives me the chills. Nice marketing indeed.

So, the four of us took questions from a moderator, recounted our stories, and then took questions from the students. It was a long day, but it ended nicely, sharing our passion for business.

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