Pictured from left to right are Daniel Delmotte, Jonah Graham, Andrew Veldman and Jake Vander Ploeg.

A four-student team from Hope College participated in the ACG Cup business-case competition sponsored by ACG (Association for Corporate Growth) Western Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The ACG Cup affords student competitors with real-world mergers and acquisitions (M&A) experience and an opportunity to build a skillset outside of the classroom.  Teams used high-level financial and valuation analyses to arrive at their conclusions and deliver professional presentations by stepping into the role as consultants and presenting recommendations in a way that would impress a board of directors.

The Hope students who participated, as team Blue Mountain Capital, were junior Daniel Delmotte of Marshall; junior Jonah Graham of Georgetown Township; senior Jake Vander Ploeg of Mundelein, Illinois; and senior Andrew Veldman of Grand Rapids.

A total of 25 teams, 102 students and 42 judges took part in the multi-round event, which ACG Western Michigan presented in partnership with ACG Minnesota and ACG Detroit.  It included options for in-person and remote participation, with the competitors being business, finance and accounting students from Michigan institutions as well as Fordham University in New York and the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.  This year’s event also offered in-person competitors a chance to meet business representatives from across Michigan at a Career Conversation networking event held the night before.

ACG Western Michigan’s ACG Cup competition has long been hailed as the premier ACG Cup competition across ACG North America’s 54 chapters. ACG Western Michigan is a chapter of the global Association for Corporate Growth and was founded in 1999 by West Michigan business leaders who recognized the need for a local organization to serve as a resource to executives actively involved in deal making and internal and external growth of their companies.  Volunteer judges for the competition from Detroit, Minneapolis and West Michigan come from commercial and investment banking, corporate law, private equity, accounting and valuation firms.  

This year, teams from Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan finished first and second, respectively. Hope boasts a strong tradition of top finishes in finance case competitions, such as the ACG Cup. The college placed first in 2017, and during a virtual competition which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic placed in the top 12 when competing against a broader set of business schools nationally (some with top-ranked finance programs). In 2022, Hope placed in the top four.   

For Hope, hands-on experiences such as the ACG Cup strategically complement a strong foundation in the liberal arts, giving critical insight into a student’s vocational journey and calling.   Hope College competitor Jake Vander Ploeg said ACG Cup was an ‘introduction into a field that I would not otherwise have discovered and I am extremely grateful for it. The attention to detail, teamwork, and presentation skills required can be applied to any career path.”