Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State business students seek supply chain solutions for Indiana melon producer

December 16, 2014

Melons aren't only good for health but, as a group of Indiana State University business students learned this fall, can also help in applying the concepts of supply chain management in a real world setting.

Instead of textbook-driven projects, Kuntal Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management, asked five students in his fundamentals of supply chain management course to outline and structure the supply chain at Melon Acres, a family-owned company that produces cantaloupe, watermelon, sweet corn, cucumbers and asparagus on nearly 1,000 acres in Oaktown.

The students - Adam Dearlove, Becca Muick, Jesse Aff, Sean Pepper and Mansoor Al Hosani - participated in a site visit to Melon Acres and read related research materials pertaining to the produce industry to get a better understanding of the melon market so they could come up with recommendations for improvement. Jen Perry, owner of Think Marketability in Terre Haute, connected Bhattacharyya's class with Melon Acres and Steve Pontius, director of Indiana State's Rural-Urban Entrepreneurship Development Institute.

"It was interesting to take the concepts we learned in the 300 level course and see them at work at Melon Acres," Dearlove said. "This research piqued my interested and I would like to sit with small and large suppliers to see how their operations work and where improvements could be made."

The group recommended that the institute continue analyzing the melon supply chain by comparing Melon Acres with smaller producers to look at the feasibility of small producers investing in sorting equipment towards increasing efficiency and output. Students also suggested comparing the cost the business pays to run 35 buses between the field and sorting area with operating three semis.

"This was a project that allowed students to apply what they've learned in class in a real setting and made a difference to the community," Bhattacharyya said. "Indiana State University takes a lot of pride in experiential learning, especially in the Operations and Supply Chain Management (OSCM) curriculum here at the Scott College of Business."

In addition to being a community engagement project, Muick said it opened her eyes to just how involved the agricultural business is.

"I never realized how complex it is to grow food," she said. "Growers have to balance a lot of things - field conditions, disease - and take a lot of precautions to keep their operations running efficiently."

By the end of the presentation, Whitney Horrall, part owner of Melon Acres, said she had a better idea of the business' strengths and weaknesses and was intrigued by the students' ideas for optimizing Melon Acres' bottom line.

"It was interesting to see the business laid in different levels and how everything works together," she said. "I'll show their findings to my dad and I think he'll be interested in seeing the breakdown the students came up with."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or

Contact: Dr. Kuntal Bhattacharyya, director of the Center for Supply Management Research and assistant professor of operations and supply chain management,