Gourmet Chef and Dean, Ray Braun, uses his famous meat rub to teach entrepreneurship

What do you get when you combine a dean, a faculty member, two falcon flames, a road trip, pork and an entrepreneurial spirit?  You guessed it--an experiential learning project in the College of Business at BGSU!

Heading home from Columbus after meeting with a group of potential investors one hot summer afternoon in 2014, Dean Ray Braun and Director of the Dallas-Hamilton Center, Kirk D. Kern, were bickering over whether to stop at Mom Wilson’s, a popular country store between Columbus and Bowling Green.

This time, Dean Braun won the argument, and the pair made a quick stop to check out the place. As Kern and Braun entered Mom Wilson’s, wearing their BGSU College of Business gear, they were greeted by a hearty “Ay Ziggy Zoomba” welcome from Sue Snavely, owner of Mom Wilson’s.  Both Sue and her husband, Dennis Snavely, are proud BGSU alumni and Falcon Flames. The Snavely’s shared their story and let Braun and Kern sample their pork products.  

After a great visit with the Snavely’s, the pair headed home with two new friendships, a car full of pork and a few “I told you we should stop” comments from Braun.

Braun and his wife created their own special dry meat rub and hosted a dinner party with Kern and his wife and Leadership Council Chairman, Steven Zirkel and his wife. Braun shared their road trip story and baby back ribs with the Braun’s special rub. He also “rubbed” in the fact that it was his idea to stop at Mom Wilson’s.

“The ribs were the ‘best ever’ and my wife and I along with the Zirkel’s encouraged Dean Braun and his wife to market their dry rub,” Kern said. “I decided to nudge him a little more by asking my fall entrepreneurship marketing class to prepare a promotional plan for the rub as part of a class project.”

Braun provided the class with grilled chicken featuring the rub, a list of ingredients and an outline for a final exam. He also shared the astounding statistics that more than $2.5 billion dollars is spent annually on purchasing dry seasonings in America. The class was divided into sixteen groups of students who came up with some extremely creative ways to market the spicy meat rub to consumers. 

“This project taught the students how to create an entrepreneurial marketing plan, define a target customer and work within a defined budget of $2,000 in a unique and engaging way,” Braun said. “Using a start-up product for a class project is a great way for student entrepreneurs to learn the process of hatching a new brand and potential company.”

“Using real world examples and unique learning opportunities is part of the culture we have created here in the College,” Braun continued.

The winning team comprised of Abigial Leith, Carissa Miglin, John Rogers and Sophia Schmitz developed “The Dean’s Rub” brand, which is a tongue–in-cheek method to market the spicy meat rub to consumers using academic slogans such as “The Dean’s rub will make you smarter!” and “The A+ of dry rubs!”

Kyle Busch, Anto Rados, Nick Wheeler and Andrew Hood developed a concept for a monthly subscription-based brand called “The Dean’s Rub Club.” The customer receives a box of individually wrapped dry rub packages along with recipes and a novelty gift.  

Team Glass City Dry Rub consisting of Chloe Cinibulk, Daniel Krentz, Michael Reasoner and Jessica Whitt presented a clever packaging idea. Since three of the team members are artists, they differentiated the brand by selling the rub in a refillable hand blown glass bottle. Who is their target customer? It is an individual who has discretionary income, appreciates unique products and is concerned about the environment.  

The ESHP3140 students asked if they could not only compete for grades, but also to have Braun grill for the winners. Dean Braun agreed and will be hosting the winning team for a baby back rib dinner at his home this spring. Now, Braun faces the decision whether to market his dry rub. 

Whether he markets the rub or not, all indications point to an A+ for Dean Braun!