After years of teaching sales skills to corporate professionals and students, University of West Florida marketing professor Dr. Bob Kimball is taking his instruction to a new audience: inmates at the Escambia County Work Release Center.
In February, Kimball conducted a two-day sales course, Bob’s Sales Camp, with 24 inmates participating in the Pathways for Change men’s residential treatment program. Pathways for Change operates a faith-based addictions treatment program for men who want to overcome destructive behaviors, attitudes and habits that prevent them from living a life free from crime and incarceration. Through a collaborative effort by the UWF College of Business, UWF Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Pathways for Change, Bob’s Sales Camp included interactive exercises, role-play and life skills. Kimball said he plans to repeat the course with a new cohort of inmates every 90 days.
“We are all selling and negotiating all the time, not only in business but in relationships and other areas of life,” Kimball said. “Selling and dealing with others requires you to listen and help them achieve their goals in order to get what you want. I emphasized to these men that to be successful they should focus on others. As they assess their lives and manage their goals, this is a focus that can really benefit them.”
Kimball first approached Dr. Matthew Crow, chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, about his interest in conducting Bob’s Sales Camp.
“When Dr. Kimball approached me with his interest in conducting Bob’s Sales Camp in order to provide skills to inmates preparing to reenter society, I immediately thought of Pathways for Change, an important community partner for our department and UWF,” Crow said.
Brittany Austin, UWF alumna, serves as a link between the University, where she is as an adjunct professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Pathways for Change, where she is the case management director.
“In our men’s residential treatment program, all of the men have been arrested for a felony and court ordered to complete our program,” Austin said. “They are non-violent, non-sexual offenders who are addicts or alcoholics and want to change. We help them develop new skills and trades, and provide counseling to help them better their lives here. For Dr. Kimball to offer these men a new skill that can be applied to any aspect of life is really valuable. It will help them to sell themselves to others in the future.”
One participant in the camp, Michael Ritenour, said he plans to use the skills he learned when he applies for a part-time job in a later phase of the Pathways program.
“It was very educational and I enjoyed it,” he said. “I’m officially trained now, and I can put that on my resume.”
Kimball, who has taught at UWF for 30 years and built his own successful business career prior to teaching, said he views Bob’s Sales Camp as an act of service on behalf of the College of Business.
“Within the College of Business, we’ve talked about finding ways that cross-functional teams can serve the community,” Kimball said. “Bob’s Sales Camp was a pilot project for this effort, and hopefully others in the college will participate in other ways.”
For additional information about the UWF College of Business or the UWF Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, visit uwf.edu.