SAN DIEGO, CA — Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s, kicked off the 2022 BEMA Convention as the keynote speaker Thursday, June 23 at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, CA.

Sponsored by Kwik Lok Corporation, the presentation focused on Stuckey’s insights into the journey of her family’s “87-year-old start-up” and the impact manufacturing had on its revival following her takeover in 2019. Her path was lit by her grandfather’s original business files handed down to her by her mother.

Stuckey’s was started by the former Democratic legislator’s grandfather in 1937, and through a series of events, eventually landed in the hands of the self-proclaimed “accidental CEO.” Stuckey’s experience as a “3G-er” — third-generation owner — shaped the path the company is now on and the future she’s carved out for it through the power of branding and manufacturing.

A pioneer in the roadside retail industry, Stuckey’s was one of the first to capitalize on the American road trip, with a chain of roadside stops filled with region-specific items in addition to Texaco gas and the company’s signature pecan rolls.

“Before there was a Pilot, before Flying J, before Love’s, before Buc-ee’s, there was Stuckey’s,” she said.


Stuckey recognized the value of her company’s brand and stuck to her guns as she met with several financial advisors to revive Stuckey’s.

“I knew the value of the brand, I don’t think anyone who didn’t have the name Stuckey could appreciate that,” she said. “But I’d grown up my entire life and people telling me Stuckey’s stories, about pulling over and having this wonderful experience, being with their family, and how special it was. I didn’t want that to die.”

In the rise, fall and resurrection of her family’s company, the Stuckey’s brand identity shifted from shiny turquoise roofing to unrecognizable, with what was once 368 stores across 40 states shrinking to just 17. Stuckey shared the dark days of how Stuckey’s, once a thriving chain, lost its soul under new leadership that left locations to become trucker bars.

On her journey to revive the company, recently covered in the New York Times, Stuckey shared an anecdote about how a location in Marion, AR, that had a hole in its roof yet still turned a profit because of regulars who still believed in her family’s original vision. That interaction made her realize that her company’s brand was worth saving.

“That was that was really the moment in which I thought, ‘I can do this,’” Stuckey said. “And so, I turned to how my grandfather did it.”


In sifting through the files left behind by her grandfather, Stuckey discovered that the true financial success for her family’s business, in addition to gas sales, came from the product.

“Manufacturing is how we turned this company around,” she said.

Stuckey’s grandfather had his own candy plant and through a series of challenges, he learned about packaging, food preservation and more. He had a distribution center, sourced and made his own product.

Along with her business partner, R.J. Lamar, a third-generation pecan farmer, Stuckey was able to allocate the resources to purchase a pecan processing plant and a candy plant. In the face of COVID, being in the heart of pecan country eased the stresses of supply chain shortages as the company’s No. 1 product is fully sourced from Georgia farmers.

According to Stuckey, the investment made in manufacturing has pushed the brand forward.


“I attribute 70% of our comeback to manufacturing and the rest of branding and storytelling but being able to make it ourselves has been incredible,” she said. “And the labor, we’re finally working through that. We just gave everyone on the front lines, all our candy workers, a third raise and it’s made all the difference.”

Through the power of nostalgia and the continued investment in manufacturing, Stuckey turned the company around in a little under three years. Last year, Stuckey’s closed out with $2.5 million in profit and more than $12 million in sales.

While the brand’s sales continue to grow with major global corporations and it tries to corner the pecan market, its biggest conflict is access to capital. With a need for expansion and new equipment, Stuckey remains steadfast on growing with caution.

“We don’t want to sell to private equity. No disrespect but so far private equity has not understood our brand,” Stuckey said. “So it’s just getting the loans, being able to service the debt and making sure that we’re growing in a way that’s not too fast. I obsessively follow brands that fail more than brands that succeed and almost all of them I see where they don’t scale right? They grow too fast. And I don’t want that to happen to us.”

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