The Charles and Patsy Collat Industrial Distribution Program
Maggie: Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online Bachelor of Science and Industrial Distribution Information Session. My name is Maggie and I will be the moderator for today’s webcast. I’m going to just start off with a few logistic items for everyone real quick. As you can see on the screen, we are in broadcast only mode just to minimize some background noise. So please ensure that your computer speakers are not muted. If you are experiencing any technical difficulties please click the Help icon on the bottom tool bar for troubleshooting. If you have questions throughout the presentation do not hesitate to communicate with us through the Q&A box on the left side of your screen. We’ll be answering questions at the end of the presentation. We’ll also be sending out a link of the recording after the webinar. So please look out for that in the next couple days.
As you can see by today’s agenda, we’ll be discussing what industrial distribution is, along with curriculum details and admission requirements. Most importantly, our program director will also be discussing some salary potential and placement opportunities for the program. As previously mentioned, we’ll be answering your questions at the end of the presentation. So please use that Q&A box on the left side of your screen throughout the webinar to submit your questions.
Now at this time I’d like to introduce our two panelists. We have Dr. Tom DeCarlo, who is UAB’s Industrial Distribution Program Director, and Marcy Kilyan is one of our online undergraduate enrollment advisors. Now to kick off the presentation, I will turn it over to Dr. DeCarlo to introduce the program.
Dr. DeCarlo: Thank you. I appreciate this, and it’s a pleasure to be with you. I’ve been working at UAB for the last what, 13 years, as the Chair of the program. I’ve seen it change over the years, and it’s grown tremendously. We’re online now, which is real exciting. I have to tell you, we do provide the same educational opportunities for the online students as our on campus students.
But I want to introduce you in this slide to really three people that are really also important to our program. One is in the center there. You see Kristen Craig. She’s our on-campus academic advisor. Next to her is Rick Thompson, one of our recent graduates. Upper left hand corner you’ll see Charles and Patsy Collat. Now, Charles is key and instrumental to actually establishing our program back in 1990. It was his idea. He helped push this whole program through to establish it back then, and has actually thought so highly of our program he endowed the program about eight years ago. That means he gave a lot of his own money to support our efforts in teaching our program to you.
After a few years, he actually stepped up to the plate and donated $25 million to name the entire school after him and his family. So he’s very… we really think highly of Charles and Patsy, and we’re pleased to have them as our benefactors of our program. He helps steward our program and helps us raise money. I’ll talk a little bit later about how that helps students and our program.
Before I talk about our program I want to play a game with you all. I call it Let’s Play ID Q&A. Pretty simple, I just want to ask you a couple questions and see if you know the answer, all right. So here we go. Which bachelor degree among all those that are offered at UAB is among the highest in potential salary? Yes, it’s industrial distribution. In fact, it was listed recently a few months ago on the Forbes List of number 19 out of 25 majors. And interestingly enough those that were above industrial distribution program were all engineering majors. So we were the first business, and really the only business major to be on the Forbes Magazine list.
Another question here. Which of these majors has a lot of demand for our graduates? And would you like to be in demand after graduation? Well, again, the answer is industrial distribution, if you couldn’t guess it. We have over 90% job placement. In fact, we would argue that we would have 100% job placement, but the fact of the matter is a number of students go on to graduate school and/or they opt not to want to be employed right after school. So they’re going to take a big trip or something like that and they don’t interview. We have a tremendous demand, and I’ll talk about this a little later, for our students from this program because it’s so niched, and because we do a really, really good job of training our students in this space to get them ready to be assets for companies.
The third and final question is what is the only endowed program in the Collat School of Business? In fact, we’re the only endowed program in the entire university. And that is, as you could guess, right. Industrial distribution. There are a number of companies that have come forward to support our program financially because they believe in it so much. So as a result we’re able to provide lots of support to our students and do a lot of fun activities and provide scholarships, et cetera, which I’ll talk about in a little bit.
So that gives you a little bit of background of some of the benefits I would say of our program over and above some of the others. Now, I think what you’re probably thinking is well, what is industrial distribution? What is it? So I’d like to talk about instead of definitions, I’ll just give you a picture. You can see on this slide we have the manufacturer on the left and the industrial user or customer on the right. So instead of going direct as you see that top line, that is a manufacturer selling it directly to an industrial user, what we see then is, let’s see here, is the industrial distributor in the middle of the channel. That means the manufacturer will say hey, you know what? I’d rather sell it to a company that takes it from me and then it sells it to the ultimate consumer.
So one of the questions I get often from students, why don’t they just go direct? I’ll give you a short story here to kind of summarize all this. I was in the Office of the Vice President of Osram Sylvania in Boston a little while ago and I asked him that same question. Why don’t you go direct? And his response was, “Tom, we can’t go direct. We have over a hundred Ph.D.’s developing the next and greatest lighting solution. We can’t afford to service our customers. We can’t afford to market our products. What we can do though is have distributors partner with our distributors. They buy the products from us and they turn around and sell them. So we would be out of business if we tried to do this ourselves. We just can’t afford it.” And that’s indicative of a lot of companies that are manufacturers. See, they’re really good at making products. They just don’t have the time or resources to get into the marketplace.
That’s where industrial distribution comes in, see. What they do is the industrial distributor will buy it in bulk. So the industrial distributor owns the product. Their job now is to sell the product for the manufacturer to the industrial users. Now, there’s a lot of benefit for going through industrial distribution. Quite a bit actually. I told you that one story, but manufacturers like to sell in bulk. And the customers like to buy small pieces. So the industrial distributor buys it in bulk, and then turns around and breaks it into break bulk is what they call it, and in turn sells it to the industrial user.
So what’s going on in industrial distribution is we don’t really make anything. But we teach you is how to run a profitable business by buying products at a lower rate because you’re buying it in bulk. You turn around, you break bulk, you add services to that, and you then service the industrial user when you sell it to them. So you’re adding value in the channel. A manufacturer just can’t do that. They just can’t do it. They rely on the distributor to develop all these services and all these after-sales support programs so the industrial user can easily look to the distributor for all these value-adds.
I hope you understand that what we’re trying to do is it’s almost like entrepreneurship. We teach you the basics of how to run a successful business, because that’s what many of our students do. They come out of our program and they run a profit center. $3, $4, $5 million profit center and they hand you the keys to the profit center and they say okay, Sally, I want you now to go and run this profit center. You buy the products using our money. You turn around and sell them to the customers that you want to and make money off of this. That’s what your job is. And that’s sort of how we train our students.
That’s a little bit about industrial distribution without getting into too much detail. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Is this a very large industry or is it very small? What size is this? Well, it’s actually over $5 trillion – that’s with a T – trillion dollar industry in our economy. That’s huge folks. That’s huge. That’s a significant share of our GDP. So it is a big and growing industry. There’s a lot of opportunities for students when they come out of here to get really, really good jobs.
Let me talk about our program just in brief now about what we offer. We offer two tracks here. The first track, and probably the most famous, if you will, track is the engineering track, the industrial track. Here, students will take a variety of applied engineering courses. I’ll talk a little bit more about that later, in addition to business core classes. Then there’s this more newly established medical equipment and supplies track. UAB is a large medical provider and this university is buys billions of dollars of products from the medical community, and we thought it was a really neat idea to leverage our strength in this area and develop this medical equipment and supplies track. Here, students, instead of taking the engineering courses, they take a separate set of courses in the basic medical arena. You would learn medical terminology, medical finance, et cetera, anatomy. So these set of courses are completely different than the engineering courses. So that’s sort of our program in a nutshell. We have these two tracks, have been very successful and they offer students a variety of unique opportunities.
Where do we place these students? I mentioned the high placement rate earlier. Well, it is. For those that are not in Alabama, those who might even be in different states, the unique feature of our program is that we have Fortune 500 companies recruiting our students and they place our students all over the United States. In fact, the majority of our students don’t even start in Birmingham or even in Alabama. They go on to other states like California, Texas, New York, Florida, Louisiana, et cetera. So they’re all over the country. And that’s where they start. Now, they can end up back in Alabama if you want. But these, as you can see, some of the companies on your screen, you may not be familiar with them. But they’re some of the largest suppliers of medical and industrial equipment in the country. And they all come to our program to recruit our students. They get these really good salaries. We’ve had some students – the average has been around $57-$58,000. Some have gone out, of course, higher, and some about that. That’s basically the average is probably what you’ll see here.
So like I said, to recap, we have a variety of companies. A lot of companies come in. In fact, we kind of run out of students toward the end. I’ve had some companies recently call me up and say hey, I’ve got these job openings and we have a hard time finding anybody that’s not employed at this point. It’s disappointing, but that’s just what we have to do. And they learn a lesson. They gotta come early. So the students that are some of our top students get multiple job opportunities so they can pick and choose which job fits them the best. And then they get placed at places in the country that are probably different than where they are now, which is a good thing. It helps them grow a little bit. So that’s a little bit about our placement opportunities.
We do, as I mentioned, have scholarships, because we have a tremendous amount of endowment money that we have accumulated over the years and we continue to accumulate. So we do have some student scholarships that are available to help support and defray the costs associated with going through our program. That’s a little bit about that. Our program, and here’s a slide you may not even be able to read. I apologize. It’s kind of small. But what I want to point out is this. Essentially, we have on the one side, on the left hand side you’ll see a series of courses in the engineering track. Those courses are developed only for industrial distribution students. So in other words, these courses are not taught to engineering students. They’re only taught for industrial distribution students. And what that means is it’s a different curriculum. It’s designed to help you understand terminology, understand engineering processes, but really you’re not an engineer. In fact, none of our students in the history of our program has ever failed these engineering courses. So don’t get nervous about oh no, this is in engineering. It’s not like that at all. It’s not what you’re thinking. It’s designed for industrial distribution students, and it’s designed to help you understand the concepts better so you can talk to engineers instead of really knowing how products work. It’s just understanding the terminologies.
On the right side you’ll see the medical equipment and supplies track courses. We did not add a lot of courses here because there’s so many that you could choose from, because at UAB we offer a lot of medical course work throughout the university. And we provide a lot of flexibility for our students to pick and choose the type of medical courses that might suite their career needs. So there’s a whole host of classes out there that you could choose from, and it just depends on what you’re looking for out of your career needs.
That is a little bit about our program. I’m excited that you all are here and maybe listening in and learning a little bit about industrial distribution. At this point I’ll turn it back over to our moderator and let her wrap it up.
Maggie: All right, thank you, Tom. We’ll go ahead and pass it over to Marcy. She’s gonna go ahead and give you some term overview really quick, and then move into admission requirements.
Marcy: Thank you. To go over the term overview, we do have three entry points that you can enroll in. We’re currently taking online applications for our Fall term that will begin in August. We also have a Spring term that is available that will begin this upcoming January, and then our Summer term that will begin this upcoming May. With our bachelor’s degree program it is a mixture of core classes as well as general education classes. Those core classes would be considered like your business and your major classes. The general education classes are more of your basic classes. So these would be considered like your English, math, science, history courses. The class length can vary between seven, 10, or 14 weeks long. Just to kind of give you that heads up on our application deadline for the term, our online application for our Fall term is July 25.
To get into the admission requirements, this will kind of vary depending on your academic background. To go over that with you, if you’re coming in as a freshman we’ll ask to see your official high school transcripts and we do require a minimum GPA of 2.25. What is also required is minimum ACT score of 20, or an SAT score of 950.
If you’re coming in as a non-traditional student, and this is somebody who graduated high school more than four years ago with no college background, we’ll require your official high school transcripts and look for a minimum GPA of 2.75. So if you’ve graduated high school less than four years ago and you have less than 24 college credit hours, we’ll also need to see all of your college transcripts from all the institutions you’ve attended, and must have a 2.0 college GPA.
And then of course, there’s a transferring student. So what we’ll look for in transferring students, obviously all of your official transcripts, again, from all the institutions you’ve attended, and a minimum GPA of a 2.0. You will also have to be in good standing with all of your colleges and universities that you’ve attended.
Maggie: Okay, thank you Marcy. We will now open it up to questions. Just a reminder, go ahead and use that Q&A box on your screen. We’ll start by asking the questions that we have received so far. As we are going through these, we will answer as many as we can. We still have plenty of time left in the presentation. So I’m sure that won’t be a problem. But if we don’t get to your question, we’ll definitely have an enrollment advisor follow up with you after the webinar.
All right, first question, and this is a very common question. I know we didn’t touch on it in the presentation is regarding what is the actual tuition rate? Marcy, I’ll go ahead and pass that one to you, if you want to talk about the cost of attendance.
Marcy: Sure, the cost of attendance will vary, obviously, depending on if you have any college credit hours transferring in. But to go over that, for our core classes they go for $667 per credit hour. So that would be $2001 per core class. And then the general education classes go for $433 per credit hour. So that would bring one general education class to $1299 per class. The overall cost of attendance, for instance, if you’re coming in as freshman with zero college credit hours to your name you are looking at $70,212 for the program. So that is for 120 total credit hours that need to be completed for this degree.
Maggie: Great, thank you. The next question I’m going to ask actually, somebody was wondering if the program offers any type of networking opportunities? Dr. DeCarlo, I’m going to pass that one over to you.
Dr. DeCarlo: Yes, that’s a great question. I appreciate that. I wish I had touched on that. Our program is highly embedded with industry. I’m assuming you want to network with not only other students, which we do have a lot of group work, but also with industry folks in order to secure a job. We are probably the only major in my opinion that has the number of guest speakers and industry guests, if you will, in any program in our college. I have one to two guest speakers in classes and when I do my online sections. I have industry executives, their comments. I videotape them. I have them present to webinar kind of things. So we have just a lot of opportunities. We have a student distribution leaders association you can be a member of. In that, we have speakers that we can video live and have you participate virtually when they come to campus and give their presentations. We have them once a month.
So there are a lot of opportunities, I think, to participate virtually and/or if you’re near you could participate in some of our trips and things like that. We do do a lot of… once a semester at least we’ll do a field trip to a distributor or manufacturer to learn more about their operations. I hope that answers the question. If you have follow up let me know.
Maggie: Thank you, Tom. Thank you. This next question that came in is asking can you take all of the classes online? So I will pass that over to Marcy to go ahead and respond.
Marcy: Yes, actually we are 100% online. So you wouldn’t ever have to step foot on our campus, essentially unless you wanted to visit like Dr. DeCarlo mentioned earlier.
Maggie: Okay, thank you.
Dr. DeCarlo: Can I just butt in here for a minute?
Maggie: Yeah, of course.
Dr. DeCarlo: I just want to emphasize for those who are listening that my goal in developing my courses online was to be as sensitive to the fact that we have a lot of industry support as possible. So I have intertwined guest speakers, if you will, using videotaped discussions with them into the courses. So it makes you feel like you’re getting a guest speaker almost every module that you have. So that’s one of the things I want to mention as well. I’ve gone to great pains by the way to do this. It’s unlike a lot of other online programs.
Maggie: Thank you, Tom. This next question that came in, Tom, I’m actually going to pass this over to you. This person said that I’m a 30 sales person. How can the program enhance my career? I currently work for a major soft drink company in Birmingham and our business is changing rapidly.
Dr. DeCarlo: So he’s a current… well, we have a tremendous number of working adults in our program. All the way up to over 50 years old. If you’re looking… the principles that we teach in our program for someone like yourself I think will go a long way in terms of developing you as a professional and kind of see things a little differently in your job more strategically, if you will. We do a lot of cases – real cases – and I use a lot of my consulting work to try to elaborate on the points that we’re talking about. So the idea is that you try to teach it at a little more strategic level at times so that when you get into your job you can look at it in a different perspective.
Now, if this individual already has a bachelor’s degree, they can think about an MBA. But we have had bachelor’s earning people that already have a bachelor come into our program and supplement their education with this program. I’ve seen it work. Students come out of the program with a better appreciation, and maybe even if they’re not happy at their current job, or if they want to get into something more dynamic, they would be gobbled up by some of our supporters or partners. I hope that answers the question.
Maggie: I think so. Thank you so much, Tom. This next question here I will be passing over to Marcy. This person said that they’ve never done an online program before and they’re wondering what resources that there are available to help them.
Marcy: Yeah, absolutely. We definitely have a lot of different resources that can help you out throughout this entire program. We do have access to Smarthinking tutoring service. There’s the IT help desk. But we also do have a dedicated student advisor who will be walking you through the entire program all the way up until you graduate from classes. So they will be getting you registered for classes. That way, you don’t ever have to worry about that. It’ll always be a conversation between the two of you to determine exactly how many classes you want to take, and what classes you’re taking. So yes, there’s always resources available for you to be successful in this program.
Maggie: Perfect, thank you. This next question here, Tom, earlier in your presentation you had mentioned scholarships. This person is wondering how exactly they would apply for the industrial distribution scholarships.
Dr. DeCarlo: It’s a program level scholarship. That’s over and above any other scholarships that the university, or not only the university, but our college level scholarships. We have three layers. There’s university level scholarships, college level scholarships, and then we’re fortunate because we now have program level scholarships. What you would do is you would apply. I have to be honest with you. There’s a new system that we just put into place. I think it’s called BSMART that it’s a central processing website at UAB for applications for scholarships. So what it is, it’s all scholarships in the School of Business. What you would do is you would select industrial distribution. If you don’t select industrial distribution, that’s your first mistake. So select industrial distribution and then you would just fill out the forms that’s required. And that’s really all you do. Then we process that and provide you with your information on your scholarship.
I hate to say it, but I have to follow up and make sure I’m correct in this new system. It’s called BSMART I think. So actually what I can do is if you want to email me directly, I can give you that link. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maggie: Thank you, Tom. And Marcy…
Marcy: I have the link as well.
Maggie: You do?
Marcy: Yeah, I can definitely send it out.
Dr. DeCarlo: Oh, is that what it… so you might have it as well, okay.
Maggie: We’ll make sure that Marcy, or if you email Tom, we’ll follow up with you to make sure that you guys get that link. The next question here, Tom, one person was asking how broad is the career range for this major? And maybe you could go back. I know in an earlier slide you had touched a little bit about just the industry as a whole. Maybe if you could rego through the different industries that are available for graduates.
Dr. DeCarlo: Right, yes. That’s a good question. Well, you know, we’ve been doing this for a long time. We have students that have going into what we would call manufacturers of say, electrical equipment, fluid power, MRO – what we call maintenance type products for industrial users. We have students that have gone into obviously the medical space for manufacturers like Johnson and Johnson and GE Healthcare, et cetera. We have students going to distributors on both sides, industrial as well as the medical side. We have had students go into technology firms. They like our Amazon, Apple, Google. They’ve hired our students, because they like the idea of the way we’re teaching our students.
Dr. DeCarlo: We had one student going into alcohol. He wanted to be a wine distributor. So we allowed him to create his own track if you will, not a medical or industrial. We allowed him to take… he took a class in France in wine tasting I think it was. So what we’re saying is you can develop your own track. We have flex track, didn’t even mention that. But if you’re interested in specific industry, we can allow you to develop your own series of courses to try to teach you the information needed to be successful in that particular industry.
So it does vary by student. We’ve had them go in a whole host of governments, governmental work, technology, industrial user, medical. And then we have trucking and transportation and railway. Just a whole host of industries that have hired our students. If you have something in particular they want to know about, let me know. I can answer it, but I hope that helps.
Maggie: Thank you, Tom. Yes, absolutely. This next question here, actually I will pass it over to Marcy. Somebody was asking if you accept financial aid for the program?
Marcy: Yeah, we do accept financial aid for those who are qualified and eligible as long as you go ahead and you complete a financial aid application. They will be the ones to come back and let you know exactly what you’re qualified or eligible for, whether that be any kind of grants or loans. So I would definitely be able to send out information in regards to that as well.
Maggie: Perfect. Thank you. The next question here, somebody was asking if we have a brochure for the program, or if you can the presentation via email. I just want to point out to everybody that the screen that you see on the left hand side there, there should be some links that you can click on. I believe one of them is the industrial distribution program brochure. There’s also a link to schedule an appointment, and there’s one other link there too. But to get the program brochure you can definitely click on that link to the left – it should be right underneath the Q&A box – to be able to download the brochure for the program.
And again, at the end of the presentation I believe it’s the next day you will receive an email with the link to a recording of the presentation so that you can have that too to be able to reference and go back to.
At this point I’m going to just hold for a minute or so. If there are any other questions that you want to ask, now would be the time to do so. I will just put us on mute and we’ll hold for just a couple minutes and see if there’s any last minute questions that come through.
Okay, I’m not seeing any other questions come through. So we can go ahead and conclude the webinar for today. I just want to thank you all for joining us. Thank you, Dr. DeCarlo, thank you, Marcy, for sharing insight into our ID program. A reminder that the application deadline is July 25 and that classes start on August 27 for the Fall term.
If you do have any other additional questions that you had wanted to ask, you can reach out to your online enrollment advisor and schedule an appointment on the link that is on-