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Richard Park: The flame is burning bright

Entrepreneurship is a major factor in the success of both individuals and businesses in Canada. We can all be glad to live in a place where we have the opportunities to be what we want to be and succeed based on our talents and willingness to work.

This month’s article should be entitled, ‘The Story Behind the People’, as I focus on three individuals: Richard Park, Steven Frederiksen and Shane Soehner. They are the driving force behind the day-to-day operation of the Old Flame Brewery in Port Perry, and Old Flame’s newest addition, the Newmarket location.

Shane Soehner was born in Owen Sound and moved to Port Perry when he was eleven. Steven Frederiksen started life in Kingston and moved here when he was five. The two met through neighbours and became best friends, which they still are today.

Shane had part-time jobs at a dog kennel, and both worked at Wal-Mart while attending high school and then post-secondary institutions. Steve majored in communications and digital media, and Shane excelled in game development and entrepreneurship.

When the Old Flame Brewery opened in Port Perry, Shane applied for a position and was hired. Steve joined the operation within a year, and once again, the two besties were working side by side.

“We did whatever needed to be done,” Steve explained. “We knew it was a start-up operation, and there were no defined roles. If something needed doing, we stepped up to the plate and did it,” Shane added.

They both agreed, working for founder and entrepreneur Jack Doak is a privilege, an immense education and experience. The duo learned every aspect of the business, and have risen to the point where Steve is a brewer in training and Shane oversees the packaging facility.

Both Steven and Shane report to one of the newest additions to the brewery, brewmaster Richard Park. Richard is new, not only to the brewery, but also, to Port Perry.

“I am very impressed with Port Perry. It is a great place to live and a fantastic place to raise my daughter,” Richard stated.

Richard’s parents were born in South Korea; which sparked my interest, as I am scheduled to visit there this fall. “My mom was a city girl from Seoul, and my father was raised on a farm in the northeast.”

Richard was born in North York. “My parents moved around a lot,” he explained. “We did the whole convenience store circuit,” he said, smiling as he spoke. “We also lived in Woodbridge for a time. I remember waving the Italian flag around on World Cup day.”

Richard attended Newmarket Secondary School. He made friends with Jack Doak’s son, Drew, and consequently met the rest of the family.

During high school, Richard was quite immersed in the institution, from being the student council president to joining the football and basketball teams. His next step was the school of business at York University, but the impression made by Jack Doak during those years in Newmarket was lasting.

Richard, his wife and daughter, Charlotte, recently moved to Port Perry and loved the small-town atmosphere. His responsibilities at Old Flame have grown to where he is now running the operation. “It’s great because it frees Jack up to make decisions about structure, future and new opportunities.”

Richard is focused on following people he admires. “Jack is a true mentor,” he said. With the opening of the Newmarket location, Richard has recently stepped into a managerial role for both operations.

Covid has affected the functionality of all restaurants, and the Old Flame is no exception. “Times have certainly been different,” Richard explained, and we all know what he must be feeling.

“I am extremely happy at Old Flame, as it is a fantastic place for people to act on opportunities.” This has certainly been proven in the careers of Steven Frederiksen, Shane Soehner and brewmaster, Richard Park.

I asked Richard what the future held. He explained his ever-changing role. “Jack is the force behind Old Flame, as well the concept and vision. I see my role as freeing up as much of his time as possible, allowing him to grow the business.”

I asked what that meant. “As you know, we now have a second operation up and running in Newmarket, and part of my duties are involved with that location.”

He paused a moment. “The key factor in the success of Old Flame is the people, who are a result of the opportunities. Our goal is to continually hire, groom and promote individuals to take on more advanced roles, which in turn will grow the business and create new opportunities.”

Old Flame Brewery, in both Port Perry and Newmarket, is a success story. Anyone who has ever visited will certainly attest to the fact it is all about the customers and staff.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel,’ on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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