Bird’s-eye view of business

Marquette real estate, supply chain management students see how their worlds converge — from a helicopter

By Dr. Brian Till

Photo by Drew Stathus

It turns out a helicopter makes an excellent business school classroom.

I realized this as I was hundreds of feet above the CenterPoint Intermodal Station in Joliet, Illinois, with a few dozen students from Marquette Business’ nationally ranked real estate and supply chain management programs. As we soared above the “largest inland port in North America,” the students — and I — had one of those great ah-ha moments when we saw firsthand how the worlds of commercial real estate and supply chain management converge.

The best learning happens between the lines — where theory meets application, where business disciplines inform one another, and where true collaboration occurs. And it almost always happens beyond our campus.

At Marquette Business, we call this experiential learning and it is one of our three strategic pillars, along with personal attention and ethics and values. For our students, it’s the difference between telling and showing.

Our real estate and supply chain management programs are ranked in the Top 20 nationally by U.S. News & World Report — 9th and 12th, respectively. Led by two of the college’s premier faculty members, Drs. Mark Eppli and Doug Fisher, both programs attract some of Marquette’s brightest, most ambitious business students.

We make these programs better by bringing them together.
Marquette real estate and supply chain management students join together for a collaborative experiential learning experience at Uline’s headquarters. | Photo by Drew Stathus

So, on a beautiful early fall day our real estate and supply chain management students had the privilege of heading on a bus together 35 miles south of Milwaukee to Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. A border town that was once merely an afterthought on the drive to Chicago, Pleasant Prairie has fast become a major distribution hub, home to a massive distribution center for online retail giant Amazon, as well as the global headquarters for leading shipping supply company Uline.

Students toured the 200-acre Uline campus, including its two million-square-foot warehouses, learning about the corporation’s rich culture and gaining a growing appreciation for how the marriage of real estate development and transportation logistics literally transformed an entire interstate corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Photo courtesy CenterPoint Properties

Following that, we journeyed another 100 miles south where the helicopter waited to take us aloft so that we could begin to grasp the sheer scale of the 6,400-acre intermodal station. Forty-one tenants occupy 15 million square feet of real estate strategically located between I-55 and I-80, about 40 miles from Chicago.

The intermodal and Uline tours connected supply chain and real estate in a perspective I have never thought of before. The impact the two have on each other is monumental to both sectors. It was beneficial to see the real estate and supply chain work together as we have never done something like this before. 
Erik Potocek, senior, real estate and finance; Real Estate Club president

As a dean, I think often about the future of business education, and it should come as no surprise to those of you in the business community that much of that time is spent thinking about collaboration.

How do we connect our students with industry? How do we connect students with each other? And how do we make it make sense for them?

Tours like the one I was privileged to join are unique opportunities for us to begin answering those questions. They bring business principles to life for our students and teach them about the power and importance of collaboration.

Dean Till climbs aboard for a helicopter tour. | Photo by Drew Stathus

A cool helicopter ride doesn’t hurt, either.

Dr. Brian Till is the Keyes Dean of Business Administration at Marquette University.

VIDEO: Fly along with Dean Till and real estate and supply chain management students as they take in the massive scale of the CenterPoint Intermodal Station from a helicopter.

Video produced and edited by Drew Stathus

Dean Till would like to acknowledge the Centers for Real Estate and Supply Chain Management, particularly Beth Krey and Chris Korjenek, for bringing this opportunity together. Also, thanks to Marquette Business’ own Drew Stathus for capturing the day.

Marquette Business wishes to thank the following alumni and individuals who made this experience for our students possible:

Lindsay Barnes, Uline
Scott Benedetto, CenterPoint Properties
Jim Clewlow, CenterPoint Properties
John Elloitt, Uline
Noreen Gallery, CenterPoint Properties
Andrew Goltra, Uline
Melissa Kinney, CenterPoint Properties
John Lass, CenterPoint Properties
Dan Leahy, NAI Hiffman
Brian McKiernan, CenterPoint Properties
Adam Roth, NAI Hiffman
Chad Vande Zande, The Boerke Company | Cushman & Wakefield