Shawn Oke has been named the Stanly Community College (SCC) Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) Business Person of the Year award recipient for 2016. Katrina Sams, PBL chapter president for 2015-2016, presented the award to the owner of Albemarle's Sweet Shop at a recent meeting of the College's Board of Trustees.
"The chapter wanted to recognize an Albemarle business leader this year as part of the city's 175th Anniversary celebration," Ms. Sams commented, " and Mr. Oke has been a dynamic community leader, including his 16-year ownership of one of our oldest businesses. The selection criteria included choosing someone whose enthusiasm, integrity and involvement is an example for students in business-related areas of study, and Mr. Oke certainly fulfills that criteria."
The Business Person of the Year program began at the national level of Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda in 1980. The SCC chapter named Nell Poplin, owner of Leejames Dress Shoppe in Quenby Mall as the first local honoree.
At a meeting of the PBL state officers on the SCC campus, the local chapter had Sweet Shop do the specialty clown cookies in blue and gold, the organization's colors, and gave out copies of a Charlotte Observer article featuring the Sweet Shop as one of the top bakeries in the area.
Records trace the history of the business to the early 1920s, and Mr. Oke told chapter members that one of the things he most enjoys is hearing people come in the bakery and say their parents and grandparents used to come there for cookies, cakes, and pies. The clown cookies go back at least 50 years.
The fifth owner of the business, Mr. Oke expressed his appreciation to the many loyal customers and the staff for their commitment to both quality and customer service. He also expressed appreciation for the help and support of his family. "My wife, Laura, has shown so much support for me since I came home in March 2000 and informed her I wanted to buy the Albemarle Sweet Shop. She has endured a lot as I have worked to balance two careers." His sons, Andrew and William, have grown up with the bakery and have begun working to learn the business.
Among the business' community programs is the complimentary "Happy Birthday" cake that is done on the local radio station and birthday cakes done on 90th birthdays for participants in the United Way Senior Services Program through the Stanly County Senior Center. In addition to owning the Albemarle Sweet Shop, Mr. Oke is employed by the City of Albemarle Fire Department as the fire chief. "I love to cook and I love to eat so having the Sweet Shop gives me two very fulfilling areas of work," he commented. "I encourage students to chase dreams, just as I did with both areas. It's important to take chances and to be willing to sacrifice at the moment for the long-term goal."
Mr. Oke is active at the local and national level through both of his careers. At the local level he serves on the United Way Executive Board and is active with the Chamber of Commerce, where he has served on the Board of Directors and chairs the group that organizes the Leadership Stanly program co-sponsored by the Chamber and Stanly Community College. He is also very active in his church, First Lutheran of Albemarle.
At the national level Mr. Oke is on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Fire Chiefs Safety, Health and Survival Section, where he is a leader in firefighter health and safety. "As we honor Mr. Oke, we salute all those business leaders in Stanly County who have exemplary work ethics and who give unselfishly to programs and activities that make this a good place to live," commented Ms. Sams.
Katrina Sams, PBL chapter president for 2015-2016, presented the Business Person of the Year Award to Shawn Oke, Owner of Albemarle's Sweet Shop, at a recent meeting of the College's Board of Trustees.