Marshall Crawley was chatting with some of the new friends he made at camp Wednesday, talking about the usual wacky teen stuff . . . like inventory, capital and research and development.
No, that is not a typo.Crawley, a Midvale resident who will be a senior at Hillcrest High School this year, was using terms common to the world of high finance and executive decisions.
He and 198 other students are trying to sharpen their skills at Utah State University this week as they take part in the 18th annual Utah Business Week, sponsored by the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
The students are divided into 16 companies, each of which must develop a product and create a logo and radio spot for it. Crawley's Company P came up with Super Spin Stick.
If the name itself does not make it obvious, the product is a huge (probably a foot tall or more) deodorant stick placed on a turntable. The whole family can use it, Crawley said, and the spinning motion is designed "for quick application."
"Our whole family revolves around it," reads one line in the radio ad.
Delta resident Ashley Johnson, who will be a senior at Delta High School this year, said their company brainstormed for product ideas, and the spinning deodorant was born.
"It wasn't as serious," said North Salt Lake resident Mayleen Hayes, who will be a senior at Woods Cross High School. "You come up here, and you want to have some fun."
But much of the week calls for serious business. In addition to working together on the spinning deodorant, the 12 student executives of Company P were broken down into three competing deodorant firms.
Becky Patrick, vice president and controller of Scott Machinery Co. in Salt Lake City, is Company P's advisor. She said the four members of each firm run their own mythical manufacturing business as part of a computer simulation.
Each day, they have to make decisions on marketing, transportation, pricing, sales, human resources and research and development, she said. The next day, they can see the results of their moves on a spreadsheet.
Patrick said the students started slowly, but by Wednesday, all three firms in Company P were making money.
Roger Bennett, Utah Business Week's activities coordinator and a branch manager for Wells Fargo in Salt Lake, said the event also draws big-name speakers like auto dealership owner Mark Miller, Zions Bancorp. President Harris Simmons and Questar Corp. Executive Vice President D.N. "Nick"Rose.
"We really do try to teach them about the free enterprise system and what businesses are really about," Bennett said. "We really do change the lives of these students."
He said he has hired four or five past participants, and even those who do not end up running their own businesses become better employees.
"I believe that they will rise to become some of the leaders,"
Bennett said. "They are bright enough, and the stimulation is there, and their thirst for knowledge is so unreal. It becomes an important thing to them. . . .
"It may spark something in one of them, and they may just take off."
Hayes said the week is giving her new insight into what makes a business work.
"You think it's just numbers and people in suits and dresses, but it's so much more than that," she said.
And these future leaders said they also were learning that business is about more than just the pursuit of dollars.
"It gives you an opportunity to meet people and serve people - to give back to the community," said West Valley City resident Kenneth Given, a Hunter High School student.
"I think it's really neat when companies give to others," Hayes agreed. "It gives a whole different atmosphere to the community."