The Kalamalka Lakers were greeted politely, but soon dismissed as newcomers by teams from schools that had been participating for 15 years at the annual Junior Achievement B.C. Business Challenge.
It made their second-place finish all the more stunning as they rocked the business simulation competition in Vancouver. And in true underdog fashion, the Lakers employed a come-from-behind strategy, vaulting up the rankings in final quarters.
“Heads were turning to see who the Lakers were when our share values started to rise,” said Chris Leverman, who competed with fellow Kal students Brendan Ryan-Lewis, Sam Braun, Austin Stanley, Andrew Farmer and Mordachai Borkowski.
The Lakers, who already has success from previous competitions, had a secret weapon in coach Patti Farmer, CEO of The McMurray Group, the local operators of 16 A&W restaurants throughout B.C. They also received pointers from VSS business teacher Susan Egan, who had guided numerous Panther teams in the competition.
Leverman attributes their success to strong teamwork and staying calm in high-pressure situations, adding that “being underestimated by other teams worked in our favour.”
Kal pocketed $300 and an impressive plaque for their efforts.
Teams from across the province, from both public and private schools, compete in the JA Challenge. The goal is to manage a virtual company, bringing a futuristic product (a miniature audio player capable of generating holographic images) to market. Teams invest in manufacturing plants, engage in cutthroat price wars, compete for consumer dollars with advertising, and develop trendy new features. They had to work against the clock to make their business decisions, and deal with changing market conditions, including credit crunches, hurricanes destroying their plants and currency swings.
The Lakers navigated their company through these storms through 18 quarters, representing five years of business, all in one action-packed day.
Said Patti Farmer: “This is a tremendous achievement, and I really can’t say enough about the event and the opportunity it afforded the boys.
“This competition is great exposure to the world of business. They were treated to some excellent keynote speakers and had an opportunity to network with students from around the province.”
The Challenge is sponsored by the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Certified Management Accountants of B.C., Telus, B.C. Hydro, Deloitte, Colliers International, MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates and West Vancouver Community Foundation.