LAB: One Woman's Mission to Inspire Future Entrepreneurs

In 1980, Learning About Business Inc. (LAB) founder Pauline S. Krug, a graduate of Lake Erie College and the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, brought to life her vision for an education program that would provide hundreds of high school students with an incredible business education experience meant to inspire future entrepreneurs.

Pauline S. Krug

The desire for a program that would reenergize student interest in entrepreneurship and industrialism was ignited in Ms. Krug in 1978. In her program research, she learned from Dr. Thomas Mastin, chief executive officer of Lubrizol Corporation, about an education program at his alma mater, Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. The program, used by William C. Bonnifield, chairman of the Department of Economics at Wabash College, would serve as the template for Ms. Krug's annual LAB Week program. Conducted by business professionals, the first LAB Week program was offered to 50 or so high school students at virtually no cost to the students, including room and board. It was offered at the Lake Erie College campus in Painesville, Ohio, where it remains today.

LAB's first mission statement was adopted in 1981 by its Advisory Board: "Learning About Business Inc. exists to give selected students an appreciation for and an extensive and enjoyable experience with the free-enterprise system." Over time, the mission statement has undergone word changes to reflect the increasingly interactive nature of the program, but the mission's spirit has remained the same.

The computer-based simulation software program which is at the core of the LAB Week experience made its debut during the first LAB Week, and like the mission statement, has undergone a number of significant evolutions over time in keeping with technological advancements. The program, which enables five-member student teams to form their own companies and compete for market supremacy based on their business decisions, has evolved from an IBM-style punch card system to a highly sophisticated simulation program, allowing students to learn the impact of their business decisions each day of the seven-day program.

In 1987, the LAB program received the Freedom Foundation's Valley Forge Honor Certificate for excellence in the category of economic education. In July, 1992, LAB went international, when a staff of 12 traveled to a language-specialization high school in Krakow, Poland. Three subsequent similar programs were developed at the Marie Curie University in Lublin and a private high school in Nowy Sacz. Ultimately, the lack of consistent funding and difficulty in developing staff and locations marked the end of the international outreach, but not before students in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania received a head start in the world of Western-style entrepreneurism.

From the very beginning, LAB has depended on businesses and leaders in the business community for financial support as well as leadership on its Advisory Board of Directors. During the early years, the program was funded almost exclusively from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, joined shortly thereafter by Lubrizol and other Northeast Ohio companies. As LAB achieved nonprofit status, funding was broadened to include additional donors. Lubrizol and the Jeannette C. McIntyre and Frederick (Lash) McIntyre Charitable Foundation Trust have both been major supporters of LAB through the years.

Since LAB's inception, the program has continually revised its curriculum to ensure it stays current with changing business practices as national and global economies evolve. While LAB's founder Pauline Krug passed away on April 2, 2003, her legacy and spirited leadership lives on in a program that has touched the lives of hundreds of students and business community members.

Milestones in LAB History:

  • 1980: Pauline S. Krug founds Learning About Business Inc. (LAB) and the first LAB Week program is offered to some 50 students at the Lake Erie College campus in Painesville, Ohio.
  • 1981: LAB's first mission statement is adopted: “Learning About Business Inc. exists to give selected students an appreciation for and an extensive and enjoyable experience with the free-enterprise system.” Over time, the mission statement undergoes word changes to reflect the increasingly interactive nature of the program, but the mission's spirit remains the same.
  • 1981 - November 2002: Pauline Krug serves as LAB's first executive director until stepping down from day-to-day operations to focus on long-range planning.
  • 1987: LAB receives the Freedom Foundation's Valley Forge Honor Certificate for excellence in the category of economic education.
  • July 1992: LAB goes international, when a staff of 12 travels to a language-specialization high school in Krakow, Poland. Three subsequent similar programs are developed at the Marie Curie University in Lublin and a private high school in Nowy Sacz. Ultimately, the lack of consistent funding and difficulty in developing staff and locations mark the end of the international outreach, but not before students in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania receive a head start in the world of Western-style entrepreneurism.
  • 2002 - 2006: Francis Marinelli, a former Advisory Board member and head of the Lakeland Community College Tech Prep program, serves as LAB executive director.
  • April 2, 2003: Pauline Krug, "Mother LAB," dies, leaving behind the legacy of a program that has impacted the lives of hundreds of students.
  • 2006: Michael J. Jablonski, former public relations vice president for TRW Inc., succeeds Francis Marinelli as LAB executive director.
  • 2010: LAB receives a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation enabling the LAB simulation software to be upgraded. Also, for the first time in LAB's history, two of the participants are children of former LAB participants.
  • 2012: With the 2012 LAB Week commencement, the number of alumni surpassed 1,800. Many LAB graduates have gone on to distinguish themselves in business, academia, and non-profit organizations among others.

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