November 27, 2014  

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International Business Students Partner with Local, State Clients on Project

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Southern Miss senior James Butler, right, explains his group’s research to Jimmy Staring, owner of Staring Auto Salvage, as part of an International Business capstone project. (Office of University Communications by Van Arnold)

Jimmy Staring never dreamed that one simple sale from his auto salvage business might turn into an international export venture.

Yet, there he sat on Thursday, May 5 listening to a team of international business students at The University of Southern Mississippi present ideas for his company’s expansion as part of a senior project in Professor John Lambert’s class.

“A while back Dr. Lambert bought an old military vehicle from me and we got to talking about the future of my company,” said Staring, co-owner and president of Staring Auto Salvage in Byram, Miss. “He told me about this class project and thought it might be helpful for me to participate. I can tell you right now that they came up with a great business plan for me, and it’s something I’m definitely going to consider.”

In this capstone senior project, students were divided into teams and tasked to develop business solutions for selected companies. Lambert noted that the project required students to draw from what they had learned from the entire spectrum of classes in which they had participated during their college careers.

Seniors James Butler, David Fourrier, James Alford and Mervin Petiot formed a team called Global Integration Solutions that studied the possibility of Staring Auto Salvage becoming a parts exporter. After much research the group settled on The Dominican Republic as the ideal target area for Staring’s company.

“We looked at a lot of different countries, as far away as Israel and Kuwait, but The Dominican Republic just seemed like the best fit when we looked at all the variables involved,” said Butler.

In its presentation, the team pointed out that 80 percent of the vehicles on the road in The Dominican Republic are more than 15 years old and many of those lack regular maintenance. Consequently, a market exists for auto parts – particularly inexpensive ones.

Staring, who has been in business since 1986, has set aside a $40,000 investment to make the export idea a reality. “I still have a lot of questions about how this could work, but these guys have really done their homework and I’m eager to see if we can make this happen.”

Petiot said that participating in such a highly scrutinized, labor-intensive project provided some valuable real-world business experience.

“A project like this takes you beyond the regular classroom and that’s one of the things that appealed to me most,” he said. “Working directly with a client to help him expand his business operation has been both rewarding and enlightening.”

For more information about the International Business program at Southern Miss, call 601.266.4659 or visit www.usm.edu/business/departments/management_intbus.php