Building professional bonds
Lerner consulting project leads master's student to business relationship
3:45 p.m., July 30, 2012--A leaky roof and the need to complete a professional consulting project for a class led Dan Mason, a graduate student in the University of Delaware's Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, to a unique partnership with G. Fedale Roofing and Siding.
Mason, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Wake Forest University, is working on his master’s in organizational effectiveness, development and change (OEDC) in the Department of Business Administration.
Rising to the challenge
Mason said he formed the partnership with Allen Fedale, general manager of Fedale Roofing, based on their previous acquaintance and after a house call to fix a leak in his roof.
“I started out knowing Allen as a friend, then became a client and through resources and with the right attitude was able to offer my services as a consultant,” said Mason, who also noted that he was drawn to the OEDC program because it bridges the gap between how things work out on paper and how they work out in the real world.
John Sawyer, director of the OEDC program, said students are required to complete a professional project related to their coursework in order to smooth the transition from student to professional.
“Non-profit organizations frequently accept interns but I also encourage students to develop their own projects using resources like family, friend and workplace networks,” said Sawyer.
Mason learned through talking with Fedale that although the Wilmington, Del., roofing firm had had much success in the past, the company had outgrown its organizational structure. So he took Sawyer’s encouragement and offered a proposal that outlined a possible plan of action, theories, methods and a projected timeline.
Although Fedale did not have set goals he knew the company could only get better and so he agreed to Mason’s proposal.
Mason applied his skills and knowledge by addressing four main areas in his proposal to the company, including financial, learning and growth, customer-oriented goals and internal business processes.
He observed the company’s structure and shadowed employees throughout the first phase of the project. After the second phase, Mason discovered that his initial plan was turning out in a different way than he had projected.
“You have to work with things,” said Mason. “A big learning experience was knowing how to change and adapt as the process changed around you.”
One area in which Mason helped the company was to institute a balanced score card system, which established accountability and facilitated weekly expectations so employees could work toward specific goals. By revamping the company’s organizational structure, Mason also helped to clarify employee roles and job descriptions.
Another major aspect Mason helped Fedale Roofing with was to address the computer systems and programs the company was using to operate their business. In an effort to avoid double entry and the use of multiple programs and enable the office to run smoother, Mason proposed Fedale Roofing hire an external company to integrate heir systems into one customized system.
Through these and other suggestions, Mason had a positive impact on the company.
“Dan’s like my mentor,” said Fedale.
Glenn Fedale, Allen Fedale’s brother and owner of the company, agreed.
“I was confident to bring Mason in as an intern. He offered a good amount of resources, always referring back to his coursework and used all the right materials to help my business exceed our standards.”
The impact on Mason of consulting with Fedale Roofing was also positive.
“Allen dedicated a lot of time to the project and showed me that being a successful consultant is more than helping a company with their challenges and barriers,” said Mason. “I learned it is also about establishing that relationship and great rapport.”
Sawyer noted the OEDC projects are a growth and learning experience for students and said Mason’s professional relationship created the potential for future OEDC graduate students to partner with Fedale Roofing.
“Dan was very sociable and engaged with his client which provided him access and opportunity to draw from his coursework and implement that knowledge into the real world,” said Sawyer.
Fedale agreed, noting Dan was dedicated to the project and made a difference for the company.
“There was some resistance to change but in the end Dan helped us tend to our customers in a better way and enabled us to be more profitable,” said Fedale. “Dan’s efforts were efficient and exactly what we needed. He helped us create a more formal organizational structure, cleared up roles and integrated tasks, and then took all of that and applied it to our IT system. Dan was great.”
About G. Fedale Roofing and Siding
G. Fedale Roofing and Siding is a family-oriented roofing company that has been a competitive establishment in Wilmington, Del., since 2002. The company stays involved with the community by helping organizations like NAMI Delaware and Habitat for Humanity, while each of the Fedale brothers also participate individually in various community activities like motivational speaking and teaching Sunday school as youth leaders.
G. Fedale Roofing and Siding makes an effort to provide the best value and craftsmanship for their customers and the communities they serve through service, education and commitment.
Article by Rachel Howard
Photos by Shawn Kirkpatrick