The Ferguson Innovation Challenge

Ferguson Ventures has partnered with the Entrepreneurship Center to offer a new challenge to students. This semester, student teams will work to solve one of four problems, of their choosing, in the hopes of winning internship opportunities.

Registration for this year’s Innovation Challenge is live! Register here!

Pick your problem:

  • Contractors can struggle to build strong relationships with their Homeowner customers. How might Ferguson assist contractors with this challenge, using digital tools?
  • Home maintenance and repair on equipment items (such as HVAC units, appliances, and water heaters) for some homeowners are “out of sight and out of mind” until the day something breaks. How might we encourage homeowners to think more proactively about home maintenance and efficient equipment that results in lower cost of ownership and brings additional benefits to the environment?
  • Homeowners show interest in smart home systems, but they don’t have a grasp of the options and they face challenges with the complexity of understanding ecosystem compatibility. How might we help homeowners easily understand their own preferences and product needs, then get the help they require with installation and support?
  • Plumbers may visit Ferguson counters multiple times during the day to pick up materials between service jobs they are completing for their homeowner customers, because they often do not know the job to be done at the next customer’s house before they arrive. How might we enable plumbers to anticipate customer needs?

Over the Course of the Year You Will

Give a Mid-point Presentation

February 14

Your team will give a speed pitch styled presentation of ideas. Members of the W&M Entrepreneurship Fellow, Ventures Associate, and W&M staff/mentorsworkforce will all provide feeback and insights.

Attend a Challenge Kickoff Event

November 15

During the Kickoff Event you will be provided with a Ferguson introduction into the project. You will be able to form your team at the event. You will also be able to attend a Peebles tour as well as more working sessions with mentors and team members. And yes we will have our lunch together as a team!

Pitch Your Ideas

March 6

Teams will present their elevator pitches to a panel of judges from both Ferguson and William & Mary.  The winners will be announced at Pitch Day.

Some Important Notes

Five Teams Total

Though we will accept applications from anyone interested in the challenge, the challenge stipulates that only the top five team applicants will participate. Take some time when you apply – it will pay off in the long run.

Team Mentors

There is a decent chance that you may not have any experience with this industry. Fortunately, Ferguson will be providing mentors for every team. They will help you in all stages of the project, so your team can put its best foot forward.


First Place: $5,000

Second Place: $2,500

Third Place: $1,000

Ferguson Ventures will also be selecting one of the pitches to pursue over the summer. All students who participate will be up for a few internship positions that will focus on making the selected project come to life.

Meet our Mentors

Nick Jones

• Business Unit Finance Director – Industrial & HVAC

Nick started with Ferguson in 2003 as an intern in the finance department at the corporate headquarters in Newport News, VA. After graduating Radford University in 2004 with a degree in Finance, Nick spent 3 years in branch finance and operational roles in Baltimore, MD and Austin, TX. He then relocated back to Newport News and progressed through various finance management roles. In 2017, Nick was promoted to the role of Finance Director where he has served multiple businesses within Ferguson to include the Fire & Fabrication, HVAC and Industrial businesses.

Mike grew up in Hampton Roads and graduated from Old Dominion university. After college he worked for KPMG as an auditor and obtained his CPA license. Mike is going into his 14th year with Ferguson holding various roles in finance, project management and now Finance Director for our Facilities Supply division. He lives in Williamsburg and is looking forward to working with students at William and Mary to come up with solutions to this challenge. Mike hopes to make an impact on the group and provide mentorship and guidance.

Mike Chalkias

• Business Unit Finance Director – Facilities Supply

Rajat Nair

• Applications Architect III, IT Back End Integrations

Rajat has been with Ferguson for almost 13 years as a developer for the first half, and then as a lead integration architect realizing current and future state initiatives with innovative ideas and pragmatic solutions. He believes in finding innovative solutions to solve a challenge/problem and not in seeking a challenge/problem with a solution we know. With the right aptitude, almost anything is possible.

Peter has a unique combination of experience that encompasses digital transformation, corporate communications, social media, user experience and change management. After earning his M.A. in Communications (Digital Media), his professional story ranges from running a small B2B business to leading communications strategy for digital transformation at a Fortune 500 company. As Digital Communications Manager at Ferguson, Peter is responsible for leveraging internal web-based and social tools to help associates connect to information and people across the enterprise. Peter grew up in Kenya and lives in Newport News, VA with his growing family.

Peter Stern

• Digital Communications Manger, Communications

Roscoe Woods

• Marketing Research Manager Customer and Market Analytics

Roscoe served in the United States Army as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician before going to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he majored in Human Factors Engineering with a track in Systems Engineering. After graduating from West Point, he was commissioned back into the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant Military Police Corps. Roscoe served numerous tours to include, Fort Hood, Tx, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Iraq. While stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he earned an MA from Webster University in Business and Organizational Security Management. After departing the Army, he entered into sales as an Account Executive with Orion International. After departing from Orion, he joined Cubic Global Defense, now Valiant, where he performed in numerous positions in research and training on Improvised Explosive Devices and Terrorist Threat Networks. His final position at Cubic Global Defense before joining Ferguson was Business Manager.  Roscoe currently serves as the Senior Project Manager in the Customer and Market Analytics department.

Stacy Reed joined Ferguson Enterprises following completion of a HVAC/Sheet Metal apprenticeship in January 1996. During Stacy’s 23-year tenure with Ferguson Enterprises, he has held many diverse roles within the Branches and Corporate settings which led him to his current role serving as a team member on the Customer Insights team for the past five years. While working at the branches, he was afforded the opportunities to enter the Management Trainee program. Once completed, he has held positions such as the Warehouse Manager, Branch Manager (Hampton, Suffolk and Gloucester), Area Tool & Safety Manager, and Area Counter Manager. Throughout his time as the Branch Manager in Hampton, Stacy received a Regional Achievement award for most improved Branch in the Mid Atlantic, Branch of the Year and Counter of the Year. Stacy has also been in Inside Sales roles for both Industrial and HVAC. Stacy and his wife, Ruth Anne Reed, along with their two sons, Seth and Mason, and reside in Yorktown, VA

Stacy Reed

• Project Manager IV Customer and Market Analytics

Fall Activites Timeline

Problem Statement Decision + Project Outline – 11/22/2020 by 9 AM

Spring Activites Timeline

Mentor Check-in/Video Updates1/20/2021 through 3/6/2021

  • 1/20 – 1/24: First Weekly Video Update – All updates submitted AT LEAST 24 HOURS before First Meeting with Mentor (due within this timeframe, depending on when you have scheduled your mentor meeting)
  • 1/20 – 1/24: First Weekly Meeting with Mentor (within this timeframe)
  • 1/27 – 1/31 : Second Video Update + Mentor Meeting + Brief Progress Statement
  • 2/3 – 2/7: Third Video Update + Mentor Meeting
  • 2/10 – 2/14 : Fourth Video Update + Mentor Meeting + Brief Progress Statement
  • “How Might We” Presentation2/14/2021
  • 2/17 – 2/21 : Fifth Video Update + Mentor Meeting + Brief Progress Statement
  • 2/24 – 2/28 : Sixth Video Update + Mentor Meeting
  • 3/2 – 3/6 : Seventh Video Update + Mentor Meeting + Brief Progress Statement 

• MVP & Final Pitch – 3/6/2021

Frequently Asked Questions

How Big can the Teams Be?

Teams can be from 3 – 5 members. We will be selecting the top five team applications from the pool of applications.

What if I want to participate, but cannot commit to a Summer Internship?

No problem – just mark down your availability on the form! We will not consider this question when determining your acceptance.

Can I get an internship even if I don’t win?

All contestants will be considered for a Ferguson Internship! (SO to answer your question, yes, yes you can.)

A note regarding IP

While Ferguson may choose to incorporate aspects of any of the Innovation Challenge ideas in future internal initiatives, no team or individual is precluded from further pursuit of their concept after the competition concludes.

Registration is Now Open!

Join us now for this exciting journey! Click here