Stuckey’s CEO Stephanie Stuckey on Resurrecting a Georgia Empire

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Photography by Audra Melton

 

My grandfather, Sylvester Stuckey, built Stuckey’s in 1937 with a $35 loan and a borrowed car. It began as a roadside pecan stand in Eastman, Georgia; by the 1960s, there were hundreds of Stuckey’s stores in 30 states. Stuckey’s was the first roadside retail chain offering gas, clean restrooms, hot meals, and of course, pecans. Our manufacturing plant in Eastman was among the top employment centers in town. Sadly, a large corporation purchased Stuckey’s in the ’70s and things began to decline. Over time, there were only a handful of Stuckey’s stores left. My father, [U.S. Congressman] Billy Stuckey Jr., got the company back in 1985. He managed to make it functional again, but frankly, it was still having a hard time. Our most valuable asset was our trademark. In November 2019, I took over as CEO. I can remember Stuckey’s at its peak, and I thought that if I didn’t try to help the company, I’d always regret it. My focus is strengthening what makes Stuckey’s profitable today, which is our sale of products like our famous pecan rolls. It’s actually not our roadside stores, which we don’t own or operate. We purchased a manufacturing facility in Wren, Georgia, and make everything ourselves now. It helps control costs, and frankly, the quality is better. Our distribution center is in Eastman, where everyone still takes a lot of pride in the Stuckey’s name. We’re rapidly expanding the retailers who sell our products. This strategy is working: When I took over, we were six figures in debt; now, we’re six figures profitable. My long-term vision is for us to own and operate a handful of stores where we can highlight the brand and test new products. We’ll for sure have at least one in Georgia, which has always supported us with employees, customers, and—very importantly—plenty of pecans! 

–As told to Allison Entrekin 

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