Merz Receives MTU Faculty Distinguished Service Award


On September 18th, the University presented Dr. Thomas E. Merz the 2006 Faculty Distinguished Service Award . Merz, former Mayor of the City of Houghton, was cited for improving the relationship between the City and the University, for giving MTU students a voice in city government and for his active involvement in the establishment of the Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone.

Accounting Alum Links Extracurricular and Class Experiences to Success in Job Force

Rich Schalter, a graduate of the SBE and President of Spartan Chassis, talks about how knowing your brand plays a key role in success of a product.


Q: What was your major and concentration at MTU?

A: My major was accounting and my concentration was focus on being a part of the MTU ski team. I skied everyday and went to classes most days. Due to the strength of my accounting education at MTU, I quickly passed the CPA exam and then received my CPA certification.

Q: Can you link any qualities of being in a student organization to being successful in business?

A: Absolutely. At Spartan, we are an innovative team focused on building lasting relationships. We consistently improve ourselves, our products and our processes through learning, sharing and implementing ideas. Just like being a part of the ski team, we make commitments to each team member and we work together to improve each others skills.

Q: Did you have any experiences or classes at Tech that helped you compete in the work force against other students?

A: The intensity of the class schedule to graduate in four years provided a spring board for developing the necessary study and organizational skills needed to drive success in business. Additionally, the openness of the faculty to providing direct guidance regarding the subject matter and the application to career choices broadened my perspective for my chosen profession.

Q: What is your current position?

A: After starting as the CFO of Spartan Motors in December 1996, I became the president of our largest subsidiary, Spartan Chassis, Inc., in March of 2002 and additionally serve as the executive vice-president of Spartan Motors, Inc. and a director for Spartan Motors, Inc.

Q: What are you main job responsibilities? What do you do on a daily basis?

A: My main responsibilities are the setting of the vision and strategy for Spartan, establishing the brand of Spartan and creating the culture necessary for growth in our markets. As a supplier to body builders of motorhomes, fire trucks and military vehicles, it is necessary to establish strategic relationships given the integration and dependence upon our products and our people.

Q: What does your company do?

A: We design and assemble custom chassis for vehicles in the emergency rescue, motorhome and defense markets. The company was founded in 1975 on the design and assembly of custom cabs and chassis for fire trucks and shortly after going public in 1984 expanded into motorhome chassis. We are proud of our current involvement in the production of MRAP vehicles, which are proving to save the lives of our men and women in theatre.

Q: On your website you mention your main focuses which are motorhome chassis and fire truck chassis. What are some of the advantages of focusing on fewer product lines than several product lines?

A: Basically this type of focus allows us to attack our competition collectively. We have great builder recognition and a reputation where people are asking for Spartan Chassis in the products they purchase. That doesn’t happen very often, especially in the motorhome business. Usually a buyer tends to look more at the body and features of motorhome living.

With our fire truck chassis, we service 60 builders and meet annually with fire chiefs to address their changing needs.

Another part of our company not mentioned on the website is our auto integration for military vehicles. In the 700-800 vehicles we have produced, there have been no casualties reported.

Q: Do you have any advice for current students in the School of Business and Economics?

A: Starting with the first day you obtain a position with an organization, get engaged to understand the global perspective, purpose, brand and operational focus of the enterprise of which you are an integral part. Know your personal brand, who are you, what do you do, why do you matter.

Q: Is there anything you wish you knew as a student that you know now as a business professional?

A: I would have to say knowing how to discipline yourself is important. Staying on top of your commitments and recognizing what is important. Knowing when and how to study can create more free time for yourself.

I would tell students to understand their own personal brand. Students should live according to how they want to be perceived. For example, when someone mentions your name, do you want to be known as a hard worker and someone who is reliable or someone who cannot be counted on?

Finally, I could have learned more from my professors in and out of the classroom. I was a quiet student who didn’t get involved in class discussions and I wish I would have engaged more.

SBE Hosts Grand Opening for Sam Tidwell Student Center

On Thursday, September 13th, the School of Business & Economics is hosting a grand opening for the Sam Tidwell Student Center. The student center was finished in fall 2006, and is now being dedicated and celebrated for its resources.

The grand opening will offer faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to enjoy some light refreshments, mingle amongst themselves, and learn what the center has to offer them. On the garden level of the Academic Offices Building, students can use the student center as a place to study or meet with tutors for various business and economics classes, meet with groups to work on projects at one of the two computer stations, or search the bulletin board for job postings. Also located on the garden level are two conference rooms for student groups or organizations to hold meetings, as well as Brad Wagner’s office, the Advisor for the School of Business & Economics, and Andrea Barry’s office, the Outreach Coordinator for the SBE. The student center is named after Professor Emeritus Sam B. Tidwell, originally from Mississippi, who came to Michigan Tech in 1956 as an associate professor in the School of Business. He also started the Red Tie tradition in 1956, through which each student who passed the CPA exam would send Professor Tidwell a red tie. Various red ties can be seen throughout the School of Business & Economics.

Student Organization Fair

On Monday, September 17th the School of Business and Economics Student Organizations will be hosting an Informational Fair in front of the Academic Offices Building from 3-6 PM. They will be sharing information on their respective business organizations.

They will also be grilling out, so stop by and learn more about ways to get involved in the SBE.

Organizations involved will be:
American Marketing Association
Business Professionals of America
Kappa Sigma Iota
Phi Beta Lambda
Association of Information Technology Professionals
Alpha Kappa Psi

SBE Students Garner Top Honors at Annual Student Awards Banquet

The 13th Annual Student Awards Banquet: Recognizing Excellence and Leadership at Michigan Technological University was held on April 29, 2007 where SBE students started the night off with taking the President’s Award for Leadership.

The following SBE students were recognized at the awards banquet.

MTU President’s Award for Leadership: Elizabeth Molnar (MIS). Nominees also included SBE students Alex Tiseo and Elise Vertin.

MTU Rising Star of the Year: SherAaron Hurt (Management/Finance). SBE students Tracy Payne and Elise Vertin were also nominated.

Most Improved Student Organization: The SBE’s chapter of the American Marketing Association. SBE student leaders are Kevin Brock, President, and Mairi Smith-Risk, Executive Vice President, and SBE faculty advisors are Dongwook Kim and Robert Mark.

Woman of Promise Award (SBE): Rachel Boyle (Management)

Greek Woman of the Year: Elizabeth Molnar (MIS)

Outstanding Sorority of the Year Award: Delta Zeta. SBE student Rachel Boyle (MIS) is President of DZ.

Other SBE students nominated for awards at the Student included Danielle Norton for the the Provost’s Award for Scholarship; Mairi Smith-Risk for Exceptional Leadership in the Residential Community; Kevin Brock, Jill Garrity, Mairi Smith-Risk, and Alex Tiseo for Exceptional Enthusiasm as a Student Leader; and Amber Tarver and Elise Vertin for Student Employee of the Year.

In addition, two SBE faculty were nominated for Student Organization Advisor of the Year: Jim Gale and Teresa Woods.