07 Jul BEMA Convention 2022: Keynote Speaker
Keynote – Convention 2022
On Thursday, June 23, Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s, shared the motivational story of the bumpy path to regaining her grandfather’s business as a third-generation family owner. The road trip to revitalize a forgotten brand against the odds was an inspirational story many could relate to coming out of the last two years.
As she documented her journey through social media storytelling and in-person visits to still-open Stuckey’s locations, she discovered doing business today didn’t have to be so different from the way her grandfather did business three generations ago.
Rough Road Ahead
But the process of rebuilding a brand rarely happens overnight. Her journey to regain and revitalize her grandfather’s family legacy was blighted along the way with the harsh reality of absentee owners, high manager turnover and many unloved, shuttered locations.
Faith in her endeavor was restored in an unlikely location – an Arkansas Stuckey’s packed with regulars that sported a gaping hole in the roof. This was the moment she knew the brand was worth saving. Here, Stuckey saw a glimpse of her grandfather’s dream to provide a place where “every traveler is a friend.”
Built by Pecans
Taking a note from her grandfather’s playbook, Stuckey decided to reimagine the brand with a new generation of travelers in mind. Working closely with her third cousin, Stuckey obtained an SBA loan for the purchase of a pecan processing plant and a candy processing plant to produce the brand’s signature pecan log roll. Today she attributes 70% of the company’s hard-won comeback to manufacturing, making the business profitable in seven years.
Similar to business conducted in her grandfather’s day, production of the local product relies on close connections with pecan farmers in the heart of Georgia’s pecan country. Not always a sweet deal, the re-imagining of the iconic pecan log roll also meant running through ugly packaging and private label deals before rebranding the product her way. New labels sport a happy family taking a road trip, offering a palatable and relevant theme of nostalgia and Americana for a new generation.
As more re-discover the magic of the open road, Stuckey continues to build a roadmap for the future. Employing caution against growing too fast, Stuckey is content to tell the new Stuckey’s story one social media post at a time. An army of unpaid PR-mavens are also helping her with the narrative as they document their road trip visits to Stuckey’s on social media. Solidified by a foundation of culture and values, Stuckey is finding success reimagining roadside hospitality and warmth at an iconic highway oasis.