CANTON — For the past five years, students in the Applied Business Development class at Canton-Galva High School made more then a grade — they also made a profit.
"We are a high school class that operates as a business," said senior Logan Dawes.
That business is B's Bees, an enterprise which produces lip balm, scented wax cubes and T-shirts.
Every aspect of the business, from production to graphic design to marketing to sales, is student-directed.
"I leave it all up to the students," said teacher Adam Bliesner.
The students rose to the challenge, which was initiated by their former teacher, Brenda Vogt.
"We operate as a business to help us learn business skills," Dawes said.
B's Bees members have to research vendors for their supplies, which include wax pellets and coconut oil for scented wax cubes and soybean oil for their lip balm.
"We boil water and we put wax in measuring cups. We let the wax melt down with a certain color for the flavor and then we add the oil and the flavor and pour it in the tubes," said senior Javier Berends. "After I take it off the heat and get it poured in there, it starts cooling down pretty fast."
The students design and affix the labels on each tube of lip balm, which they sell at school events and also market online via their website.
"Last year, we had a huge lip balm order of 5,000 tubes," Dawes said.
B's Bees also handle T-shirt orders — their current record is one order for 150 shirts.
Area businesses give B's Bees a boost with their orders, but their most consistent customer is the Canton-Galva school district itself, Dawes noted.
All their hard work will pay off — literally — at the end of the school year.
"At the end of the year, all of us get a profit share," said sophomore Kaylie Harman.
What money is not used to buy more inventory is split between the school and the students. Since the class uses other rooms at the school to produce their products, they give it 30 percent of their profits. The remaining 70 percent is split between the students.
Overseeing the quality control process, the students learned communication is key between the business and its vendors and customers.
"If you mess up, you have to call the company and let them know," said senior Taylor Everett.
The class found that being honest and direct about issues and taking responsibility for their mistakes is the best practice.
"Ethics is a big thing," Dawes said.
For more information about B's Bees, visit http://www.bsbees.org.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.