Ms. Darlene Webster, celebrating her 25th year as owner of The Trophy Shop in Albemarle, has been named by both Stanly Community College (SCC) Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) and North Carolina Phi Beta Lambda as the business student group’s 2015 Business Person of the Year.
Following local recognition, the state honor was announced at the 61st Annual Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference held recently in Charlotte.
Chapters throughout the state identify a business leader who serves as an example for students interested in entrepreneurship and business. A panel of judges review nomination materials and select a state recipient.
This was the fourth consecutive year for the Stanly Community College’s nominee to receive the state honor. Preceding Ms. Webster were Mr. James Lowder, 2014; Mr. Matt Smith, 2013; and Ms. Charlotte Maness, 2012.
A native of Stanly County and graduate of North Stanly High School, Ms. Webster worked as a department manager at a local retail store for a number of years.
Ms. Webster’s in-laws opened a “trophy” business in their garage in 1984, later moving it to its present location on Main Street, where the display window of trophies and plaques has remained a part of the city’s business scene. In 1990 they decided to sell the business, and she decided it was time to be in business for herself.
Ms. Webster told chapter representatives she has seen many other businesses come and go over the 25 years, including several in the area that did services similar to hers. “I am proud that I have been able to stay in business despite the recent recession, during which many businesses and organizations cut back on the number and size of awards and recognition items they present.”
“This past year has seen an increase in business over the previous two years, and that should be encouraging to students hoping to go into business for themselves. I have learned the lessons of entrepreneurship the hard way, but I am very thankful for a base of loyal customers. I am also glad that the county colleges are emphasizing business adventures like this.”
When asked what she was proudest of as she celebrated the 25th anniversary, Ms. Webster said she was glad to provide an example of business success for women. Although she said her daughters are not interested in running the business, she knows they appreciate the work that went into it in order to make a living for the family.
“I also take pride in preparing pieces that are being given to show appreciation, particularly when businesses, schools, organizations, and churches are honoring someone for volunteer service.”
The third thing is that she has operated the business by herself for the past 25 years, drafting the assistance of some close friends at the few times when there was too much for her to get done by a deadline.
She also spoke to the PBL students about changes in the business, telling them that over the 25 years, products have grown from trophies and plaques to an assortment of items like name badges, ribbons, medallions, desk accessories, and a big increase in horse show and car show ribbons.
She also commented on the changes in machinery. The original engraving was set by hand, and she estimated maybe four plaques a day would get done. When she started doing computerized engraving that jumped to 25 a day. Now she has laser equipment that would allow her to do over a hundred plaques in a day’s time if she had to.
“The chapter is pleased to honor Ms. Webster as she celebrates her 25th anniversary as a local entrepreneur and business person,” commented Chuck VanHoose, president of the SCC PBL chapter. “She provides a positive example for business students, and in recognizing her we salute all those business leaders who are committed to providing quality merchandise, good service, and ethical business procedures. Of course, we were also excited with the announcement that the state organization was joining us in highlighting her!”
Ms. Darlene Webster, celebrating her 25th year as owner of The Trophy Shop in Albemarle, received both local and state “Business Person of the Year” honors from Phi Beta Lambda recently. Presenting the award are Chuck VanHoose (left) and Katrina Sams (right), officers of the Stanly Community College chapter and president and secretary, respectively, of the state organization.