“We are absolutely delighted to have such a wonderful group of entrepreneurs and successful business leaders tell their stories at this year’s Entrepreneurship Day”, said Steven C. Agee, PhD, dean of the Meinders School of Business.
The four featured speakers are Stan Clark, president of Stan Clark Companies and founder of Eskimo Joe’s; Bart Conner, gymnast and Olympic Champion; Paula Marshall, author and CEO of Bama Pies; and John K. Penton, president of Canaan Energy LLC.
Clark is president and founder of Stan Clark Companies, which owns Eskimo Joe’s and other restaurants in Stillwater. A native of Tulsa, Clark graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He had $1,200 to his name when a friend suggested they should open a bar. Eskimo Joe’s opened on July 21, 1975.
Ater two years as partners, Clark bought his partner’s half interest to become the sole proprietor of Eskimo Joe’s. Mexico Joe’s opened in 1987. The company opened its first retail location, Joe’s Clothes World Headquarters, later that year.
In 1993, Gov. David Walters appointed Clark to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation commission. He was reappointed by Governor Frank Keating twice and served for nearly nine years under three governors.
Clark opened Joseppi’s Italian Kitchen in 2000 next to Mexico Joe’s. In 2002, he incorporated his latest operating company, Eskimo Joe’s Promotional Products Group.
One of the company’s legacies is its support of the Stillwater community, particularly the Stillwater Area United Way. Eskimo Joe’s has sponsored and hosted the Juke Joint Jog for more than 20 years and has been the title sponsor of the Three Amigos’ United Way Golf Classic for 16years. It has sponsored or contributed to the Special Olympics of Oklahoma, the Stillwater Public Education Foundation and the Coaches vs. Cancer Program.
Conner is the only American male gymnast to win gold medals at every level of national and international competition. Conner has been a USA Champion, NCAA Champion, Pan-American Games Champion, World Champion, World Cup Champion and an Olympic Champion.