Hamline News

MBA Students Create Next Generation of Apartments

Over the course of summer, Dr. Jae Lee and 16 of his MBA students partnered with Norhart for their final capstone project to create the next generation of apartments. Norhart is a 25-year-old family business based in Forest Lake, MN that builds and manages residential properties. Within the last four years, Norhart has since doubled in size. As they continue to grow, Norhart needed the help from the students.

Unlike their peers, these students had the opportunity to interact directly with the President of Norhart, Mike Kaeding. Over the course of eight weeks, the students in groups of three teams, created an in-depth analysis of apartments based upon innovation, marketing, and financial feasibility. The question that the students were supposed to figure out: how do we create a better way for people to live?

The teams first met with Mike at Emberwood Apartments on July 2 to receive the details of the capstone project and a tour, where they got a chance to get to know Mike and his company.

“For me the project really started to take shape on that first meeting with Mike at Emberwood Apartments.” said Max Carter. “I could see the determination and passion that Mike had and the rich history of his family and how that applies to everything that Mike and Norhart stand for.”

Two weeks later, the teams had their own individual meetings with Mike to brief him on their project as well as to ask any follow-up questions before they presented their projects. On August 16, the three teams along with eight of Norhart’s employees and Dean McCarthy met at Hamline where the students presented their ideas.

Each team was allowed 45 minutes to give their presentation. They presented the many aspects that Norhart takes into consideration when developing a new apartment. They shared some neat ways that Norhart could improve upon and brainstormed things Norhart could incorporate. One idea was to create an integrated mobile app for their concierge services and to include greener living into the apartment buildings.

“From a renter’s side you can be selective on many different levels such as amenities, security, curb appeal, etc. From a developer side you really must wear different hats. You must make sure that you are in touch with your residents and know what they are looking for. You must also wear the financial hat to make sure what is affordable and within your budget for the project. You must make sure that every project is satisfying for the renter and the owner. There are two sides to everything, if both sides work together the outcome is amazing” said Max Carter.

“There were so many good ideas being shared that we needed our time alone to take a step back and discuss,” said Mike Kaeding.

After the three teams presented their projects, the teams left the room to allow Mike time to choose which group met the criteria the best.

“It was very close, but in the end, group three (Jay C. O’Neill, Calvin Jackson, Thao Cao, Max Carter, Maniphone Vannavong, Abdillahi A. Mohamud) was picked the winning team by Norhart.” said Dr. Jae Lee.

To celebrate the project’s end and to thank the students for their hard work, the teams had the opportunity to participate in a networking event with local business leaders arranged by Norhart.

“Since we got done with the project, I always think about Norhart each time I see an apartment building. I can never forget the first company that provided me the opportunity to test my MBA skills. Thank you Norhart team.” shared Calvin Jackson.

Students who have participated in this partnership include: Leontre C. Campbell, Thao T. Cao, Max Carter, Michael J. Hedeen, Andy Helm, Calvin Y. Jackson, Jamon D. Kimbrough, Nichole R. Mercurio, Abdillahi A. Mohamud, Diem T. Novak, Jay C. O'Neill, Shelby J. Piette, Matthew Pikus, Katherine M. Robey, Maniphone Vannavong, and Nicolas S. Yee.