Stuckey’s Corporation which started as a roadside pecan stand during the Great Depression and grew into 350+ stores by the 1970s, is rebooting itself under the leadership of Stephanie Stuckey, who is investing her life savings to bring the company back into family hands.

Stuckey’s Corporation which started as a roadside pecan stand during the Great Depression and grew into 350+ stores by the 1970s, is rebooting itself under the leadership of Stephanie Stuckey, who is investing her life savings to bring the company back into family hands.

On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, Stuckey’s CEO Stephanie Stuckey talks openly about why she took-the-wheel of this iconic brand, and how she is bringing it back from the brink, after a dicey, century-long, road trip—from the corporate train-wreck era to an inspiring comeback story.


Restoring Stuckey’s

Stuckey’s started out as a simple, family-owned Georgia pecan stand selling pecan rolls in the 1930s, eventually morphing into America’s favorite roadside oasis with over 350 stores in the 1970s. Like many companies experiencing tremendous growth, Stuckey’s was bought out by a larger company, leading to a “perfect storm,” where Stuckey’s fell out of favor with its owners, slipping into obscurity and decline. Seeking to turn the tide of the company, Stephanie took the wheel with a plan to reacquire the company, bringing it back into the family and rebooting it for the 21st century rebranding itself for the new retail space and its goals of expanding further into B2B retail.

As Stephanie states, “Our mission, which we decided when I took over the brand in November 2019, is we make road trips fun…I really think America’s ready to revive the road trip and Stuckey’s wants to be part of that.” To accomplish this, Stuckey’s has purchased a healthy snack company, undergone a rebranding strategy, added franchise stores, expanded into B2B and retail customer bases, increased online sales and even acquired a pecan processing and candy manufacturing plant. With this, Stuckey’s hopes to control the entire process of its business, while staying true to the company’s original values.


Taking Back Your Brand

When it comes to building back the company, Stephanie is focused on three words: branding, branding and brand. In her own words, she states, “What we do have is an amazing brand. That’s something that’s not on the balance sheet. But it is truly what is our most valuable commodity or a line item.” Having been a member of the Georgia House of Representatives for 14 years, Stephanie knows how important branding is.

Once you have an understanding of who your market is, how you can make their lives better and what you stand for, then you can begin to focus on them. For Stuckey’s, this means tapping into the nostalgia factor and the desire for road trips among Americans, whether it be actual road trips or just the products that one finds when on the road. For example, as part of its five-year plan, Stuckey’s is creating an organic branded coffee line, featuring pecan-flavored coffee, that taps into the brand’s beginnings as a roadside stand.


Clipboard Research

Despite having no experience in retail or how to run a business, her grandfather W.S. Stuckey began selling pecans on the side of the road while also working on the family farm. Like the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, he learned by doing—or driving around. For example, when it came to getting insights (or modern day UX) at his stores, he would obsessively track where the cars that stopped at Stuckey’s were coming from, writing down license plates on a clipboard, noting who they were, what kinds of cars they were driving, and whether the car was loaded up for a vacation. He was meticulous in his research and valued connecting with people along their journey, which is something that Stephanie is trying to replicate in her role as CEO.

Like her grandfather, Stephanie had no prior experience in the retail industry; she instead practiced environmental law and taught at the University of Georgia Law School, in addition to her time in the Georgia House of Representatives. As such, she is embracing her grandfather’s idea of “shoe leather learning,” where she is going directly into stores, observing what’s happening and seeing how this all fits into the big picture of the company. By embracing the lost art of going around stores and getting involved in all facets of the business, Stephanie can truly connect with people and see what can be done to improve customer experience.  Like any good road trip, you always come back with great stories.

To hear some stories and learn more about Stephanie’s plans to revitalize Stuckey’s, watch or listen to us here or wherever you listen to podcasts.

About The Reboot Chronicles Podcast

Hosted by Dean DeBiase. The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles.


About Dean DeBiase

Named a Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean.

Read Now