PLMA educates future private label leaders

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
Dan Ochwat profile picture
Mentors meet with students as part of the PLMA's University Outreach Program.

While attending the 2019 Private Label Trade Show in November, I was lucky enough to meet some college students visiting the show and Chicago’s chilly winds. We met during a morning breakfast seminar, and it was a pleasure hearing about their interests in this growing industry and to learn more about the initiative that brought them and a total of 62 students to the show.

Annually, the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) pairs selected college students with a manufacturer exhibiting at the show for an inside look at the industry. That “mentorship phase” is joined by classroom teachings about the store brands industry (one they’re likely surprised to learn is a $170 billion business). Classes cover an industry overview in the U.S. and internationally, the role of store brand manufacturers and of the chains who sell them, marketing, e-commerce, and innovation. The students also go on a retail store tour to see best-in-class private brands in the field.

The program is officially called the “University Outreach Program.” At this year’s event, students came from colleges from all over such as Auburn University, Arizona University, Florida University, Arkansas University, California Polytechnic State University, Grambling State University, Portland State University, Texas A&M University, Tuskegee University and more.

Students from the University of Mississippi recently shared their experiences with the school newspaper, enjoying the hands-on experience and being on the show floor with the retailers and manufacturers.

Students apply through their universities that agree to participate in sending students and a chaperone.

It’s great to see programs like this to help groom future leaders of the industry, and I look forward to meeting new kids at the 2020 Private Label Trade Show