UJ students to rebrand Young Professionals of Jamestown
The Young Professionals of Jamestown is seeking more members and have retained a team of students from the University of Jamestown to help them.
The YPJ is a subcommittee of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Executive Director Lisa Hicks, working side by side with YPJ member Samantha Beckman, approached Mort Sarabakhsh, professor of business management at UJ, about using students from his community alliances for management consulting class to revitalize the group. Four business majors, Dan Revering and Matt Wawers of Fargo, John Tandsater of Argusville, N.D., and Tim Schuler of Escalon, Calif. were assembled to handle the task of increasing recruitment and awareness of the group’s benefits.
“It really comes from the students, the strategy of what they’re going to do,” Sarabakhsh said. “They have several ideas of how they can do what they can do to improve.”
The team of three seniors and one junior all said they’ve seen very little, if any, promotion of YPJ on campus even though they offer a cut-rate membership fee for students at $15 a year. They said getting the awareness of the group out in the college and the community is a major focus.
“We’re basically trying to grow the Young Professionals of Jamestown because it could be bigger,” said Revering, who handles public relations for the team. “The biggest thing they get out of it is networking, being connected to the community, and we just want more people involved. We want more people associated with this group because it’s going to be beneficial for the people in this group along with this city … the biggest thing there is getting it known to the college community.”
YPJ, consisting of working professionals 40 years old and younger, was formed about two years ago as an effort to retain the younger workforce in the community and has been endorsed by the North Dakota Young Professionals Network.
The rebranding team identified a lack of satisfying careers as a major hurdle for YPJ. Hicks said companies like RealTruck.com and Eldermark, a local medical software company that hires many of its employees out of the university, are vital to the mission of YPJ.
“Those are the kind of companies that we want to have in Jamestown because they do provide us with the young professionals, and that gives us a goal to retain them in the community. They (RealTruck.com) like to hire the younger set, and I know Eldermark does, too.”
Revering, a senior, said he’s planning on staying in Jamestown for at least a few years after graduation, longer if good careers are available. He hopes networking through the YPJ will help him and others find those openings.
“There’s so much opportunity that people at the college campus haven’t tapped into yet,” Revering said. “If they go to this group they could potentially find a job. They don’t know it yet, we’ve just got to get them from campus to this group and then the possibilities are endless after that.”
Hicks and some YPJ officers recently presented the North Dakota YPN’s “Top Places to Work” runner-up award to RealTruck in Jamestown. RealTruck is a 15-year-old company that sells after-market truck accessories online. The company has about 45 employees in its Jamestown office and around 20 in its Fargo office. Sales have skyrocketed from $40,000 in 1998 to $28.5 million last year according to CEO Scott Bintz.
“We didn’t really know what we were doing so it was a lot of testing,” Bintz said. “The Agri-Cover access cover was the first product we started selling in ’98 and it just grew from there. We started in the basement of a duplex and it’s grown over the years.”
Sun Reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at dluessen@ jamestownsun.com