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Student enjoys short, ‘sweet’ ride to success

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory owner Leslie Oberg (left) and business partner James Burris (right) sold their business to Iowa to mange their new store in St. Joseph.

 

A year after graduation, most college graduates are still struggling to find a job and a place in the real world. This is not the case for recent Steven L. Craig School of Business graduate, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise winner and Griffon Edge commencement speaker Leslie Oberg.

Since her graduation in May of 2011, Oberg and business partner James Burris have opened, operated and sold a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise store in Williamsburg, Iowa. The duo have now opened another store, this time a combination RMCF-Aspen Leaf frozen yogurt store in St. Joseph.

The  RMCF-Aspen Leaf store located on Frederick Avenue was a corporate store that provides internships for Missouri Western and Craig School of Business students. Instead of management running the store, it is more profitable and customer friendly to have it owned and operated by a franchisees, Oberg and Burris.

“When opportunity knocked, I had to answer, and St. Joseph is home,” said Oberg.

Starting this fall, students from Western’s applied entrepreneurship class will intern at the St. Joseph store. Students will no longer have to travel great distances to complete internships. Previous internships were located in various parts of the United States.

In July of this year, the opportunity to relocate to St. Joseph to own and operate a dual RMCF-Aspen Leaf store presented itself. Both Oberg and Burris jumped at the opportunity to open another store, and to come home as well. Oberg is from Kansas City, Mo. and Burris is from Clarksdale, Mo.

Burris says that although the business in St. Joseph is similar because of it being a franchise, the customer base is different in Iowa.

“In Iowa, we got a lot of foot traffic, and in St. Joe, it is more of a destination location,” Burris said. “Customers come to the store specifically for Rocky Mountain Chocolate or Aspen Leaf Yogurt.”

After selling their Iowa store at a profit to recent Western graduate Isaac Collins, the two Missouri natives came home to work and play.

“I don’t feel that I have worked a day,” Oberg said. “When you love what you do, it’s not work, but my life.”

Employee and student Shelby Graeff agrees with Oberg. Graeff has worked for other small businesses that are managed. Graeff says she prefers working for an owner, like Oberg.

“It’s the atmosphere, its not like work,” Graeff said. It’s being creative, it’s just fun.”

Although their life in Iowa consisted of 80 to 100 hours of work per week, Oberg and Burris both enjoyed living there and loved the franchise store they owned and operated. They put in a minimum of 70 hours at the St. Joseph store. While neither plan on going anywhere soon, both said they would do it all again.

“You have to take every opportunity that is offered,” Oberg said.

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