Roanoke Pilam Speaker Series features CEO of iconic roadside stops, Stuckey’s

The Roanoke chapter recently hosted the new CEO of Stuckey’s in a speaker series that features individuals known for leadership and entrepreneurial accomplishments. 

Stephanie Stuckey purchased Stuckey’s, the iconic roadside stop famous for its pecan candies and kitschy souvenirs that her grandfather founded. She had a mission to make Stuckey’s both profitable and a household name again.

Stephanie Stuckey: Carrying on the family Legacy

Stuckey began her speech by saying she traded in her life as a lawyer and politician to buy her family’s business, one that was “frankly a hot mess.” After purchasing the brand with her life savings, it was soon revealed to her that Stuckey’s had a rough road ahead. 

Stuckey had the crowd laughing as she described the history of the company known as a “road stop to buy sticky candy and rubber alligators.” Her visits to stores revealed many hidden surprises including a surplus of curious souvenirs like Britney Spears t-shirts, fidget spinners, and toilet-shaped ashtrays that said, “Put your butts here.”

Today as she works to expand the brand to product manufacturing, she said, “the most important thing is to have a sense of purpose.” Within six months, she restored Stuckey’s to profitability, thanks in part to a shift in focus from licensed Stuckey’s store locations to the company’s classic line of nuts and candies. 

Stuckey embraced her grandfather’s belief that “every traveler is a friend.” Historically, even during the segregation era black Americans were always welcome at Stuckey’s. She said, “Anyone who comes in contact with our brand is a friend, that’s our purpose.”   

Undergrad impressions and support

Chapter rex Hunter Bohon said, “I was impressed that she wanted to carry on the family tradition and with the ways she overcame adversity.”

The undergrads provide support for the event by selling ads in the program, serving as ushers, and doing whatever they are asked to ensure the event runs smoothly.

The program is open to students and the public. Bohon said, “Pilam has a good rep on campus. People really enjoy coming.”

A partnership with the university makes it possible

The speaker program is presented thanks to a partnership between Pi Lambda Phi and the university’s Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation (CLEI).

The speaker series was established in 2014 thanks to the desire of Pilam alumni who created something for their fraternity and the student learning experience at Roanoke College. They found common ground with the CLEI who had a similar mission.

The lecture series is offered to students to provide them with “outside of the classroom” opportunities to hear from leaders who understand the critical importance of fulfilling their role as a moral and ethical compass for all individuals and embrace the position with enthusiasm and compassion. 

Past speakers have included: Coach Ken Carter, Abby Reiner and David Schei from the Wounded Warrior Project, Virginia Tech football head coach, Frank Beamer, and Nancy Agee, President and CEO of the Carilion Clinic.

The program also awards a $1000 scholarship to a worthy undergraduate.

Alumni support this program through an endowment fund 

An endowment is a great way for you to leave a legacy to your university and support your chapter. If you’d like more information, please contact the Educational Foundation.