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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2005 / 01 

Pamplin College of Business wins professional development contract from Ferguson

January 25, 2005

Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business recently won a long-term contract to provide professional education and training to Ferguson Enterprises, the nation's largest wholesale distributor of plumbing supplies.

About two dozen managers and assistant managers from Ferguson stores around the country, including from as far away as California and Alaska, attended the first workshop, on leadership skills development, on campus last week.

Eight programs in all, each about four-and-a-half days long, have been scheduled between now and this fall, said Barry N. Moore, director of Pamplin's management and professional development center. The initial eight programs, which are expected to enroll about 200 Ferguson managers and generate more than $600,000 in gross revenue for the university, will provide leadership development training. Future workshops in the annually renewable contract, Moore said, could include other business topics.

Ferguson Inc. president and CEO Claude A. "Chip" Hornsby said the company is committed to an aggressive growth strategy and hopes to achieve $10 billion in sales by 2008. "To reach this goal, we realize we must invest in aggressive leadership development."

The Pamplin College, whose faculty will be the primary workshop leaders, "is delighted to be viewed as an asset to Ferguson in its long-term strategic growth and development," Moore said. "Our faculty members are experts in all levels of professional leadership education. We focus on custom-designed workshops — education and training that considers the particular challenges and objectives of each of our different clients."

Ferguson has been a major recruiter of Pamplin and Virginia Tech graduates. The company and its employees also have donated funds to the university, including support for endowed scholarships and a professorship in the Pamplin College. CEO Hornsby, a Virginia Tech alumnus, was the college's Wachovia Distinguished Speaker in fall 2003.

Headquartered in Newport News, Ferguson sells plumbing equipment, heating and air-conditioning parts, safety equipment, and tools. It has more than 800 service centers throughout the U.S. and in Puerto Rico and Mexico. The principal U.S. subsidiary of Wolseley plc, a British building products distributor, Ferguson made almost $6 billion in sales in 2004.

Virginia Tech's nationally ranked Pamplin College of Business offers undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting and information systems, business information technology, economics, finance, hospitality and tourism management, management, and marketing. The college emphasizes the development of leadership skills and ethical values and the integration of technology in the academic curriculum, and prepares students for global business challenges through faculty-led study abroad programs. The college has research centers that focus on business leadership, electronic commerce, energy modeling, and wireless telecommunications. The college is committed to serving business and society through the expertise of its faculty, alumni, and students.