ICS Magazine

What Does the Wharton School of Business Have to do with Flooring?

October 2, 2012

Education has been a fundamental mission of flooring industry trade associations for decades. Most have had great success improving the technical skills of their members and keeping them abreast of the latest advances in flooring technology.

They have not, however, invested equal time in helping their members develop the skills necessary for strategically maximizing the revenue and growth potential of their businesses. The resulting educational void has been widely recognized by industry leaders and others as a serious problem. That long-time void, however, is about to be filled.

The University of Pennsylvania and leaders of four flooring trade associations have joined forces to develop a customized learning program called “The Institute for Leadership and Business Growth.” Members in good standing of the Association of Rug Care Specialists (ARCS), National Wood Flooring Association, North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors and the World Floor Covering Association, who are business owners, senior managers, or managers being groomed to lead a business, are eligible to enroll in the Institute.

“The Achilles heel for many owners and managers of small, flooring-related businesses is that their technical skills far exceed their business management skills, which poses serious problems in today’s challenging and constantly changing business environment,”  said Ken Adams of ARCS. “The Institute for Leadership and Business Growth offers an incredible opportunity for members of the four trade associations to balance their skill set and learn business management practices from some of the best professors at one of the country’s top universities.”

Curriculum Customized for Flooring Industry Business Owners

The educational curriculum is the result of more than 18 months of collaboration and extensive conversations among Penn faculty and staff and the leaders of the four associations. Their work had two objectives:

  • First, they wanted to develop a curriculum that would address the essentials of business management and enable participants in the Institute to develop new skills and strategies to grow their businesses, as well as deal with the uncomfortable and complex succession planning issues that often confront family-owned and small businesses.
  • Second, they wanted a blended-learning approach that balanced traditional classroom work on the Penn campus with online courses. This “best of both worlds approach” would enable participants to develop personal relations with faculty and network with each other, while limiting their time away from their businesses.  

Access to Top-Notch Faculty

The faculty for the learning program will include professors from Penn’s Wharton School, widely recognized as one of the world’s leading business schools, the Wharton Small Business Development Center and the Center for Organizational Dynamics.

The academic program will officially begin with a dinner on January 13, 2013 on the University of Pennsylvania campus. This will be an opportunity for participants to network among themselves, meet and share background on their businesses with the faculty who will be instructing them, and define specific, business-related team projects in which they will be involved.

Participants will spend the next three days immersed in courses on the Penn campus. The three-day curriculum will include:

  • Addressing Family Business Issues
  • Customer-Centric Innovation
  • Negotiating Skills

Interactive Online Academic Program

For approximately the next two months, participants will engage in an interactive, online program that will allow them to join from any location using a web interface. The program will offer real-time classroom lectures and enable discussions among students, faculty and peers.  Participants will be required to spend three hours or more per week taking advantage of online learning opportunities in:

  • Financial Management: Theory and Practice
  • Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • Communications and Branding
  • Operations Management
  • Human Resource Management: Recruitment and Retention Strategies

The educational program will conclude on the Penn campus in mid-April for two days of focused in-classroom learning. Course topics during the two days will be:

  • Leadership and Organizational Culture
  • Leadership Development
  • Leading Organizational Change
  • Succession Planning as a Leadership Tool

During the final day, participants will present the findings and results of their team projects. The presentations will be followed by a celebratory dinner, during which participants who have successfully completed the coursework will receive certificates from the Institute for Leadership and Business Growth and the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuition for the educational program is $7,800 per participant. It will include five days of in-class instruction on the University of Pennsylvania campus, a minimum of five weeks of online learning, coaching during execution of team projects, the opening and closing dinners and lunches during on-campus sessions.

Enrollment can be completed online. Participants can apply at http://www.regonline.com/pennleadership.

 University of Pennsylvania by the Numbers

The University of Pennsylvania, including its Wharton Business School, has earned a worldwide reputation for educational excellence. The University is:

  • Ranked as one of the top 10 schools in the world
  • America’s first university
  • America’s first business school
  • Home to 12 graduate and four undergraduate schools
  • Widely recognized for its world-class faculty, which has included four Nobel Prize recipients and five Pulitzer Prize recipients over the past two decades

Here is how the University’s business programs are currently ranked among U.S. colleges and universities byU.S. News and Business Reports:

  • Undergraduate Business:  First
  • Entrepreneurship:  First
  • Finance:  First
  • Accounting:  Third
  • Marketing:  Second
  • MBA:  Third
  • Management:  Third