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We provide the means to your continued success by offering skills training and development to help you do more, know more, and profit more.

Join the ranks of those who have furthered their careers by adding to their technical skills. Call 335-6419 today to find out how Odessa College can help you be MORE.

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July 16, 2008 - 10:07AM

When the fall semester starts, Odessa College plans to expand on a 25-year tradition.

OC has long offered a Small Business Management Course. Working on an informal hunch, the college will grow that into a complete program.

"We noticed a lot of people in the Permian Basin region are either taking over small family businesses, or they want to start one of their own," instructor Connie Nichols said.

Financial management and office management are just a few of the classes that Odessa College plans to offer.

Colorado native Austin Walhert, 19, came to OC on a rodeo scholarship. He said he likes the fact that OC has a strong athletics and rodeo department, but that isn't the only reason he's here. He also wants business credits to go toward his marketing degree.

On the side he runs a small leather business where he makes and designs belts, Bibles, day planner holders, halters and other small-end leather products.

"Everything's strictly custom-made," Walhert said.

He started his business as a junior in high school. Last year, he took the small business management class at OC and realized how much Sue Jones and Connie Nichols had to offer.

"They've taught me through their own experiences in life," Walhert said.

Nichols has been teaching the Small Business Management course at OC for 23 years. A native Odessan, she got her business management degree at Texas Tech University before returning to Odessa. In her career, she's helped run her family business and other small businesses.

Jones and Nichols worked together to push the project forward, but it wasn't hard to persuade the curriculum committee and the Community Advisory Board.

They put together a curriculum, developed a course manual and plan to launch the program in the fall.

Nichols said the program isn't just about running small businesses - it's also about life skills.

"The more an individual employee has an understanding about a business, then it makes them a better steward of a city," Nichols said.

"We're trying to make better stewards of our students," she said. "If people are stronger, then businesses are stronger."

She hopes that this new program will help teach people how to access resources available to them in all aspects of life.

Walhert said that's exactly what the business classes taught him. From Nichols' life experience, she has an inventory of case studies and scenarios to offer her students. Walhert said he applies those lessons to his leather business regularly.

"It helped me learn how to manage my resources," he said. "I'm able to get the most out of them I can." 


>> The Small Business Management Course will be offered as a two-year associate's degree with 23 core classes and 68 total.

>> Already have a degree? Just want to learn management skills? Students can come back for a certification that offers specific business basics. This one-year program requires 31 credit hours.

Friday, 11 February 2005

T&C official speaks to OC students

Merchandise manager outlines company’s marketing strategy

By Ginger Pope
Odessa American

Gasoline with a side of salad could be a new twist in the latest competitive market of convenience stores, Odessa College students were told Thursday.

Tom Blase, risk and benefits director, and Nick Ramos, merchandise manager, for Town & Country spoke to OC business students at the college Thursday. They gave a firsthand account of the competitive challenges in business.

To give the company an edge, Ramos said, the company is considering what healthier food sale options they have, including salads.

“We’re facing an industry of highly competitive convenience stores — there’s one on almost every corner,” he said. “We have to figure out how to change to meet the consumer needs.”
Student Cody Dennis, who is working toward a management certificate, said hearing about Town & Country’s experiences will help him later on.

“I would like to open a convenience store — that’s something I thought about before today,” Dennis said.

Dennis said hearing how Town & Country markets to customers was helpful.

Ramos talked about how the company has to battle against the larger retail stores, who now have gasoline pumps, and the new corner drugstores, like Walgreen’s that are offering more single-serving food sales.

Jami Elledge, who is pursuing certifications in small business operations and general management, said she was so interested in the lecture that she got a business card.

“I want to look into the store manager program,” Elledge said. “My ultimate goal is to set up my own mechanic shop, and I think that could help me.”

Blase said Town & Country is looking for people like those in the OC business classes to work for them. He said store managers need some business background and at least a 2.5 grade-point average.

Salaries for store managers, with an associate’s degree, can range from $40,000 to $60,000, Blase said. For district manager, who may manage several stores, the salary range is from $40,000 to $80,000.

And like the radio commercials say, Town & Country employees have the option to buy company stock, he said.

Connie Nichols, OC business teacher, said bringing in professionals to classes makes the class material more real to the students.

“It gives them a chance to get a taste,” Nichols said. “They think ‘this might be important or I need to learn this.’ ”

Town & Country headquarters are in San Angelo. The company began in 1965 and has a total of 143 stores, including eight in Odessa.



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