Thomas qualifies for DECA Nationals

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The most likely place in Faribault High School to find senior Brett Thomas over the last few years has been down the math hallway where the business classrooms are located.

Thomas discovered early on he was naturally interested in business, so he peppered his schedule with classes like personal finance, business applications and business management. He’s also a member of DECA, an organization that prepares students for careers and education in marketing, finance, management, and other business areas.

“I’ve taken a lot of business classes, pretty much all of Mr. Kegler’s classes,” Thomas said.

All that experience recently paid off for Thomas in a big way when he qualified for DECA Nationals, which will be held April 27-30 in Orlando, Fla.

Thomas qualified by winning the Virtual Business Challenge, an online program where students run every aspect of a business for 10 days (in real time) through a five-year online simulation. Thomas entered the restaurant category, where he controlled purchasing, staffing, guest feedback, scheduling, promotions, inventory and a variety of other duties. He earned a top score of $8,214,445, which placed first in Minnesota in the restaurant category and second out of 48 participants in the Central Region.

“I just basically took what I already know from business management classes and built off of it over time by improving all the little things,” Thomas said. “Business management has probably helped me out the most because it taught me how to learn from customer feedback and make changes.”

Thomas was motivated to perform well and qualify for nationals after a disappointing finish last year when he ran a virtual hotel.

“I didn’t do too well, but I saw in previous classes other people had done well in the restaurant category, so I was pretty confident,” Thomas said. “And obviously the reward at the end was the most exciting part about it.”

At nationals, Thomas will compete in another restaurant simulation. He will receive a practice simulation in December so he can start preparing for the competition.

Thomas said his involvement in DECA, as well as the business classes he’s taken at the high school, have given him a clear goal for his future.

“I think it’s showed me what I want to do, which is own my own business,” Thomas said.


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