Meat, cheese, UWO: Perfect recipe for alumna's small business launch
"I've been a cheese geek forever," said University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business alumna MariBeth Theusch '84, who owns one of Oshkosh's newest businesses, Butcher Block Meats and Cheese. Theusch started the business with her husband, Kim, who has had a longtime hobby making sausage for family members. Combining their two interests, the Theusches opened up their own store on Nov. 5, 2012.
To accomplish this, the couple employed the help of UW Oshkosh's Business Success Center and a team of University students and faculty to create and implement a marketing plan for the new shop.
"I knew that the resources were there from having been a student and I knew how good the business school is here, and so they were very helpful," said Theusch, a finance major during her time at UW Oshkosh. "We had already kind of started on our business plan but then working with them just took it to that next step."
Former UW Oshkosh adjunct professor and marketer-in-residence Dana Baumgart, who assisted with the marketing plan, said a student marketing team, led by College of Business faculty members Bryan Lilly and Michael Tippins, did preliminary research before the shop opened.
This team inquired about what products should be carried, public interest in such a shop outside of a traditional grocery store and how much money customers would be willing to spend on quality meat and cheese.
"I knew that the resources were there from having been a student and I knew how good the business school is here, and so they were very helpful."
-MariBeth Theusch '84
Another student, UW Oshkosh alumna Samantha Gehl '12, developed and implemented a communications plan aimed at advertisements and promotions.
Gehl, who earned her bachelor's degree in marketing at UW Oshkosh and who now works for the Hortonville Area School District, said working with Butcher Block Meats and Cheese helped her prepare for her current role by providing experience working with web pages, writing online content and working alongside enthusiastic business owners.
"Kim and MariBeth are great people," she said. "When you talk to them, you get a sense of how passionate they are about their business."
MariBeth Theusch said her finance education has stuck with her throughout the process of opening the business. "Still, I do the books here. My trade—I can't get away from it," she said. "I'm still the person who is looking at cash flow and the financial statements."