How can I correct my dog for growling at strangers?

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My dog is a three year old Akita. He did not receive adequate socialization as a young puppy as we got him as a slightly older puppy; I think the breeder did not make much of an effort to socialize while they had the litter. Cormac is very fearful of strangers and will growl and sometimes bark at them, while at the same time doing his best to get further away from them. Once when the dogs were being walked, some children approached too near and Cormie juked right into the street to try to "escape" them. Most frustrating for me is that when I bring him to work (I work in a veterinary office) he growls at most of my co-workers still and will cower, growl and shake if someone comes into my office to have a conversation with me. I have tried verbal, leash, and touch corrections (a la the Dog whisperer) but he will continue to growl and shiver like crazy. How can I get him to be less fearful of people. I hesitate to reward him if he is growling, but he is very food-motivated. Thanks for any advice!

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