Jess Kronenberger graduated in May with a degree in Agribusiness and Applied Economics. While finishing her last semester of classes this past spring, she also completed her required internship. When the pandemic hit, her family business, Valley City Supply, experienced an increased need for employees. The company provides outdoor living products and design services, and being stuck at home, many more people were tackling outdoor improvements. Jess was able to arrange to intern at Valley City where she was able to apply what she learned over four years of courses, to improve systems and sales.
“I went to college to gain knowledge and bring it back to the family business,” says Kronenberger.
Knowledge and skills in econometrics, marketing, strategic management, and finance, all came in handy when it came to her helping with the implementation of a customer relationship management (CRM) system to organize customer information in one central location. Before they had the software, she says that a lot of information specific to customers would have to be repeated, often many times, during the course of a project.
“We would talk to customers, and they’d have to remind us who they were, what they were working on, and repeat a lot of information,” says Kronenberger. “The CRM is a huge time saver.”
Another undertaking Jess led was to develop Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for employees to assess skill levels and create benchmarks and performance goals moving forward. She also developed marketing materials, including brochures of products and design ideas, that customers could take from the showroom to assist in their planning process. She says the knowledge she gained in the classroom made her feel more confident in bringing forth ideas and systems to help employees and the overall business work smarter.
“I felt more respected by my family,” says Kronenberger. “And my ideas were taken more seriously.” Because it was a required assignment for the internship course, and because her family trusted her to do a good job, Jess developed a business plan which the family and employees will use as a guide as they get the company on solid ground and work on expanding into a second location.
developed a business plan which the family and employees will use as a guide as they get the company on solid ground and work on expanding into a second location. “We’re a real company now,” says Kronenberger. “We have everthing organized in one place and we have tools to better visualize needs and make sound decisions.”
“We’re a real company now,” says Kronenberger. “We have everthing organized in one place and we have tools to better visualize needs and make sound decisions.”