LACONIA — Thread has led to a student-run business at Plymouth State University, and to an internship opportunity at a Laconia company for those students.
Cody Pierce, a student from Hampton who is majoring in business administration, is a member of STATEMENT, which creates screen-printed and embroidered clothing and gear for other PSU clubs and at least one area high school.
STATEMENT got its start nearly two years ago, when student members of Marketing Association of Plymouth State (MAPS) decided they needed a way to continuously raise funds for travel to intercollegiate competitions and to gain hands-on marketing experience. The students recognized they could offer locally made products to fulfill both needs.
PSU alum Jim Adams, the North American Distribution Manager for Madeira USA, a Laconia-based market leader in high-quality machine embroidery thread and embroidery supplies, learned about the students’ ambitions through a Madeira vendor and saw an opportunity to help.
Adams reached out to STATEMENT, and when Pierce and his peers were ready, they approached Madeira about buying thread and other embroidery-related materials. Madeira embraced the chance to help them further their education.
Adams and Sam Young, Madeira’s vice president of sales and marketing, gave the students a tour of Madeira’s City on the Lakes headquarters, including its operations center, so the students could see all facets of the business.
The company’s products are made in Freiberg, Germany, and are offered for both commercial and retail sales, and they are distributed from 14 shipping locations throughout the United States.
Madeira experts answered questions from the students and helped them to expand their skill sets and, as part of the bargain, Madeira became the exclusive thread and equipment supplier for STATEMENT, which Pierce said is producing a variety of custom embroidered and screen-printed gear including T-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants and hockey hats. They also filled an order from the Newfound Regional School District.
“We’re really trying to give every club an opportunity to buy,” said Pierce.
The two Madeira executives and Pierce, together with PSU Business Professor and STATEMENT Advisor Brad Allen, then realized they could take this mutually beneficial, education-focused relationship even further, and developed an internship program exclusively for PSU MAPS students who work at STATEMENT.
In January, Pierce became the first PSU student to join the Madeira team as an intern. He is based with sales and marketing and has shadowed team members from operations and management. Pierce is spearheading research for a sustainability project that Madeira envisions launching in the future, giving him hands-on, real-world experience.
“I really appreciate everything that Jim and Sam have done for me,” Pierce said.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pierce has joined college students nationwide in remote learning and is continuing to work with Young via email and other distant platforms and will receive full credit.
Adams said while the border with Canada has been closed to people, trade continues, as does his service to his many customers.
“I can’t go and personally see my clients, but our product can get there. We were fortunate to get ahead of it and have a robust inventory,” Adams said. While their Laconia headquarters typically has 35 to 40 people on site, that has been cut to about a dozen with the rest working remotely from home (before Gov. Chris Sununu’s order last week ordered the closure of all nonessential businesses.)
Pierce said the internship is helping him focus his career path and develop relevant skills for entering the workforce upon graduation. This type of collaboration is an example of PSU’s Integrated Clusters educational model, which encourages students to join with local businesses in mutually beneficial partnerships.
Adams had high praise for Pierce, who came to the internship with experience in managing people, a skill learned by running his father’s automotive detailing business.
“He’s highly intelligent and is used to managing people. He has been in each department helping everyone,” Adams said.