I've had a stick or two over the years. Some break, some get lost on the river, on the road or in a friends truck. The standard stick is great. I usually go for a longer stick in the very back and slightly shorter for when sitting on the side. I've been changing it up a little and trying to guide from any position in the boat. I now let people jump in and pick a position. Then I get in and adjust depending on the strength of the rest of the crew. I'm also slightly more physically lazy these days. Possibly more vocal, or at least more concise.
If I had the $$ for a new stick, I think that I'd go with wood. Something natural. But that's just me.
My advice for the OP. Same as for kayaks and rafts. Demo. Demo, Demo. beg, borrow (do not steal) any paddle you can get your hands on during your first season.
Lots of quality companies. Some posted above, others linked below.