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Clarkson University Students Workin’ on the Railroad

The Clarkson School of Business and the Adirondack Scenic Railroad recently joined forces to conduct a benchmark study helping the railroad company improve its day-to-day business operations and become one of America’s "best" scenic railroads.

Over the past two semesters, two projects focused on the railroad were completed by the Clarkson Consulting Group (CCG), which is comprised of senior undergraduate and MBA students in Clarkson’s School of Business.

This spring’s benchmarking project examined a variety of operational issues, such as services offered, pricing, and entertainment, and looked into the advertising and fundraising techniques of many American and Canadian railroad companies.

New York State railroads were selected for the study based on minimum track length and amenities or entertainment offered. U.S. and Canadian railroads were chosen based on which are the "best" according to expert opinions. The students looked at these selected railroads learn advertising and fundraising techniques from their success.

Upon completion of the study, the consulting team provided the Adirondack Scenic Railroad with suggestions for marketing and fundraising strategies that could help them reach their goal of becoming one of the "best" scenic railroads in New York and the United States.

An earlier project, which involved surveying current Adirondack Scenic Railroad customers to assess levels of satisfaction and the factors related to satisfaction, was completed in the fall of 2007.

According to CCG Director Sandra Fisher, associate professor of consumer and organizational studies at Clarkson, the railroad has already implemented several of the students’ suggestions.

Tom Carver, general manager for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, worked as a liaison between the company and the CCG. "I certainly enjoyed working with the students, even on a personal basis," he said. "They were so professional and obviously helpful, because their research was a lot more in depth than we ever could have done ourselves."

"The Clarkson Consulting Group is an excellent opportunity for our most experienced students to apply their business skills and provide creative recommendations to our clients," said Fisher.

Both Carver and Fisher said the collaboration will most likely continue in the future.

Clarkson University is located in Potsdam, N.Y., just north of the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is based in Utica, N.Y., with stations in Thendara, Lake Placid, and Saranac Lake. For more information on Clarkson University, visit For more information on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, visit

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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