Stevens Bakery: Blue Ribbon Business

Based on the article Blue Ribbon Business from the January/February 2012 Our Ohio magazine.


Academic Content Standard
(Career-Based Intervention Pathway: Technical Content Standards: Career Based Intervention Competency: Unit 12 Entrepreneurial Concepts: Grades 10-12)  “Students describe the role of entrepreneurship and examine personal entrepreneurial potential.  They also identify and explore entrepreneurial opportunities and determine the viability of the business opportunity. Students will describe the importance of business planning.”

(Explanation and key terms are from the Ohio Department of Education’s Career-Based Intervention Technical Content Standards, May 2011.

Discussion points

  1. Read the article titled “Blue Ribbon Business.”
  2. Before starting their bakery and orchard, in what career fields did Sharon and Chris Stevens work?  (Identify two careers)
  3. What real-world situation caused the Stevens family to look for other career opportunities? Particularly an opportunity based from their home?
  4. Where did Sharon gain the confidence to start a bakery? Specifically, a pie bakery?
  5. Explain how Sharon and Chris started their company, from the very beginning. 
  6. Did they immediately quit their previous jobs?  Explain what steps they took to remain financially stable while still taking risks.
  7. What was the plan for Sharon and Chris with regard to their new business and their previous careers?
  8. At what point did the family decide to plant an orchard?
  9. What made that orchard a real possibility? What resources did the Stevens family already have?
  10. Was the orchard successful in filling the need for their pie ingredients? Why or why not?
  11. Being the entrepreneurs that they are, how did the Stevens family adjust their plan for the orchard?
  12. What value added experiences did the Stevens add to the orchard aspect of their business?
  13. Where did the Stevens family find customers for their product? Describe the expansion process.
  14. When faced with a disruption or a problem with their product or producing their product, how did the Stevens family react? Give examples.
  15. Define an independent grocer.  Why is this market so important to the Stevens Bakery?
  16. “We don’t have a price advantage so we have to keep our quality up,” Chris said.  What does he mean by “price advantage?”  Explain.
  17. How does the Stevens family staff their business?  Where do their find their workers?  Give examples.
  18. Describe how “Chris’s construction experience and inventive mind have been valuable in saving costs and improving efficiency.”
  19. If Chris doesn’t provide innovations, what would the result be?
  20. Financially, how have the Stevens progressed with their business? In a conservative manner or risky manner? Explain.
  21. How have the Stevens family learned about running a business and being successful entrepreneurs?  Has it been an easy endeavor?
  22. After reading about this business, do you predict that the venture will continue to be successful?
  23. What are the abilities and skills that Sharon and Chris needed to become successful entrepreneurs?
  24. What would you determine are the personal goals and objectives of Chris and Sharon Stevens?
  25. Do you believe that the Stevens family is a good example of entrepreneurs who experience failure and learn from it?
  26. Using this story as an example, can you envision becoming an entrepreneur?
  27. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  28. What are your talents and abilities?
  29. Can you give vision to new ideas?
  30. Can you develop a business plan?
  31. What are your markets?
  32. What are your risks and benefits?
  33. What business would you start?

Hands on at Home or School

  1. List the equipment needed to run a pie bakery.
  2. What are the resources needed to produce pies?
  3. Look in your grocery freezer.  What are the brands of pies available to you? Where were they produced? How much do they cost?
  4. Bake a pie from scratch at home.  How labor intensive is it?  Was your pie outcome successful?
  5. Keep track of the cost of making your pie from scratch.
  6. Now compare the cost of your pie with a ready-made bakery pie from your grocer.  Which is more economical?  Which tastes better?
  7. Could you establish a bakery business?
  8. When is the orchard open for u-pick?  What are the benefits of picking your own fruit compared to purchasing the fruit from a grocery?
  9. Where is the nearest u-pick orchard near you? (Do an Internet search to find one.)


  1. Using a map of Ohio located at the Ohio Department of Transportation, or your own map, locate:
  2. Champaign County, Ohio
  3. Springfield, Ohio
  4. Urbana, Ohio
  5. Worthington, Ohio
  6. Clintonville, Ohio

This student activity was prepared by Camille Kopczewski, who is coordinator of religious education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Grove City. She is a former sixth grade social studies teacher for South-Western City Schools. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in education.