When Bill Widmer ’91 needed additional eyes to survey his plan to expand Kaleafa Cannabis, he turned to his alma mater and a team of exceptional students.
Widmer describes Kaleafa as “pre-IPO.” The business counts 10 stores in Oregon and Washington and has grown approximately 60 percent a year without outside investment.
Looking to expand, Widmer retained the Oregon Consulting Group to examine financial and logistical elements of the company’s strategy.
The Lundquist College group, which formed in 2014, provides student consultants with real world experience serving businesses and organizations with high-quality research and analysis under the guidance of a faculty advisor. It currently counts 34 student members representing class levels from freshman to MBA.
“The work that we’ve had performed for us has been dynamite,” Widmer said of the students. “We’re using it directly.”
Starting last year, the Oregon Consulting Group started prioritizing long-term client relationships much more.
“The more time we have, we can only have a bigger impact with the client,” said Kali Rennaker, the president of the Oregon Consulting Group, who is majoring in economics and business administration with a concentration in business analytics.
A second-term client, Kaleafa and its founder see the benefit.
“The last project we did was a high-level vetting of franchise strategy, and we’re going to operationalize that in the first quarter of next year,” Widmer said. “The franchise model will be incorporated into our consolidated forecast. It really helped crystallize our approach.”
“As for the future, we’re going to continue to work with them,” Widmer said of the fruitful collaboration. “I love to support the students. I love the energy they bring. I’m such a believer in the work. For business owners, there may be uncertainty with using a student a group. I’m here to say Kaleafa got a lot of value at a fraction of the cost.”
Rennaker said that for students, the Oregon Consulting Group helps build a path for success after graduation.
“I credit all my growth trajectory in college to OCG,” she said, adding the group is the number 1 topic of interest at her job interviews.
The Oregon Consulting Group is currently seeking clients for future project partnerships.
—AnneMarie Knepper-Sjoblom ’05