‘Nut Glut’ and Light Up Ahead
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
It quickly became the perfect storm, powerful enough to make strong men cry. The same goes for strong women, too, but Kim Peacock, president of GNS Foods in Arlington, is doing her best to keep her family-owned specialty premium nut company afloat despite “blows to the bow” that might cause others to jump ship.
Consider this: She started her company with hopes, dreams and plans in 1990. Until recently, things were going well. They were roasting top-quality nuts, then packaging them for sale to other companies, mostly airlines that pampered their first-class passengers with first-class nut treats.
The year 2020 has been a nightmare for companies such as hers, what with bumper nut crops that caused tree limbs to break, a sharp increase in nut allergy diagnoses, and the biggest “bugaboo” of all—COVID 19–crippling business. With greatly reduced flights, airlines have scrubbed nuts from all flights. She and her husband Don are doggedly determined to make things work again, remaining optimistic when pessimists contend there’s a tunnel at the end of the light.
With a slowdown of orders and some deliveries refused, the company’s storage space bulges with 87,000 pounds of packaged premium nuts, plus addition of raw ingredients accounting for another 87,000 pounds. The nuts were originally expected to be delightfully ingested on planes. Now, the inventory of cashew-pecan-pistachio-almond blends must somehow be sold. It’s critical to do so soon.
How critical? They’ve expanded their retail factory store at 2109 East Division in Arlington, offering 1.25-pound bags for $5.95 each. This is well under the previous wholesale price. Patrons may buy one bag, a thousand bags or even more. (Shipping, of course, must be added.)
Kim, Don and 11 employees–including four relatives—don’t want to be left holding the BAGS.
I had never previously heard of GNS, probably because I’ve never flown first class. However, I felt compelled to know more, despite having “zero connection” with anyone there. A visit was arranged.
I was blown away. It was “spic-and-span” by any standard. Employees were busy filling various kinds of orders from throughout the U.S., including fudge and divinity. Christmas items were being prepared, topped with festive hand-tied bows.
“Thankfully, we’ve developed a growing number of repeat customers for Christmas and other special events,” Kim said.
I asked about a “whatzis” on the nut-packaging conveyor. It’s a metal detector. Huh? “Occasionally, raisins have buckshot in them,” Don explained.
Huh again! He said that raisins come from California vineyards, beginning there as grapes. Hunters looking for dove see them disappear into the vineyards, and they “fire away,” often hitting grapes instead of birds.
Well, alrighty then.
Next, I thought of fellow senior adults–PrimeTimers we call them–folks with whom I work at Burleson First Baptist Church. I figured that many of them would love to create unique wrapping for the nuts as Christmas gifts.
My wife’s eyes rolled as eight cases were loaded into our car. (Sometimes, she doesn’t share my incurable optimism.)
The nuts were taken to the church office. Within72 hours, all 200 packages were gone, so we fetched 16 more cases. A dream would be to make others aware both of this bargain basement price, as well as stir creative uses by groups needing a fund-raiser.
Some of our seniors are working on clever nut-packaging, and one purchased 75 packages for her granddaughter’s wedding reception next spring. Others are simply “scarfing them down,” holiday or not.
The phone just rang. Calling was a Howard Payne University graduate, Col./Dr. Murray, assistant scoutmaster for sons Kaid and Ian’s California scout troop. He thinks the nuts might be a great fundraiser for his scouts. (Murray, by the way, rode a bicycle from Toronto to Texas, via Vancouver. He’s now a USAF Flight Surgeon credentialed for aerospace medicine. We don’t have a better friend, or any alumnus we admire more.)
Allotted space is gone! For more “nut” information, see website, greatnuts.com.
Dr. Newbury is a long-time public speaker and university president who writes weekly. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.