Shawn Ulrich, who made a living on the ice for more than a decade, took many of his hockey skills with him to Dillard’s at Augusta Mall.
“I am very competitive,” the store manager said. “I strive to be the best. Whether it is on the ice or in a sales contest, I want to be No. 1.”
Ulrich spent his childhood between Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and Fairbanks, Alaska.
He played NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, where he earned a bachelor of education degree in 1993. He taught fifth grade for two years and played hockey for the Alaska Gold Kings, which he said is equivalent to a semi-pro team.
“It seemed like a good fit,” he said. “I was able to teach while playing hockey on the weekends.”
When the team joined the professional ranks as a charter member of the West Coast Hockey League, Ulrich was asked to stay, meaning his teaching duties had to be put on hold.
“With all of the travel and other things required, I had to put all of my time into hockey,” he said.
After the team moved to Colorado, Ulrich played with the Anchorage Aces because he wanted to remain close to home. After one year there, his hockey career took him to Texas, Nevada and North Carolina. He became head coach of the Cape Fear (N.C.) Fire Antz of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League. Despite having a 34-14 record, he was fired at midseason. Ulrich blamed internal politics involving upper management.
“It was bad,” he said. “I retired. I was tired of living like that, tired of the year-to-year contracts.”
He decided to go back to Asheville, N.C., where he applied to Dillard’s as a sales associate.
“I planned on working at Dillard’s for a couple of months and figuring out what I want to do,” he said.
The management at Dillard’s had other ideas. He quickly received a promotion to assistant sales manager, then moved up to men’s sales manager at the Myrtle Beach, S.C., location, where he opened a new store. He later moved to the Augusta National Hills location, where he was the assistant store manager.
Ulrich was transferred to Charleston, S.C., as the store manager, a position he held for about three years. When the store manager position at the Augusta Mall location opened up about a year ago, he jumped at the chance to come back.
“My wife (Alicia) and I made some great friends here,” he said. “Charleston is a beautiful city, but we feel comfortable here. They have some great employees, people who have been here year after year.”
Ulrich said he would not ask the staff to do anything he couldn’t do.
“I was brought up to go all in,” he said.