Sam Burnham, Curator
Stuckey’s is very much alive.
You may not see them in all the places you used to but reports of their demise are quite premature. In fact, what is going on with the company is one of those stories that ABG just can’t get enough of.
In the first part of this story we saw that W.S. Stuckey didn’t just build a company. He realized the power of people, his customers and employees and these two groups built the company. Oh he played a part. As a visionary, a marketer, as the kind of manager who trusted and counted on his employees, he built the system. But he couldn’t run every store. He couldn’t greet every customer. He needed his people to do that and he recognized that fact.
When a family builds a business it’s their name on the sign out front. When employees hold an interest in the company they want to see it succeed. But these aren’t concepts that modern businesses follow. Sure, you’ll come across Chick-fil -A or Southwest Airlines but for the most part large companies are cutting costs by using as few employees as possible and paying them as little as possible. And when outsiders take control of a family business they don’t see their name on the sign. They see their money on a spreadsheet. And things fall apart. Remember Sears, K-Mart, Toys R Us?
Stuckey’s has an ace in the hole though. The family recently regained control of their company. Stephanie Stuckey, granddaughter of founder W.S. Stuckey is now the CEO. She’s a vibrant, energetic leader who has studied her grandfather’s philosophies, methods, and concepts. She knows where all the right decisions were made. She knows what it’s going to take to get those teal roofs back on those highway exits.
The best way to promote something is to lead by example, to do it yourself. So if road trips are what you’re promoting, hit the road. That’s exactly what Stephanie Stuckey did. She’s on a quest to visit every store location this year. She wants to meet the people working in the stores. It’s an endeavor to be personally involved in the company And developing relationships rather than being a distant entity emailing out instructions to the rank and file. It’s the approach her grandfather would take.
The road trip has another purpose. Many of the old store locations are still in existence. Stuckey is identifying which operational stores need upgrades, repairs, etc. she’s learning which former locations might be salvageable, and what is gone for good. This all leads to the goal of making needed improvements to stores and revamping the franchise program that made Stuckey’s a household name.
That name is what’s driving the renaissance. The new CEO is driven to protect the brand. She told me, “that’s my name on that sign.” There was passion in her voice. Even as an outsider I could easily see this is bigger than money or property. This is about legacy and a sense of responsibility to both future and past generations.
And so she has enacted an aggressive plan to return the company to the place it once was, the place you remember it in. The plan isn’t all that new. W.S. Stuckey built the framework eight decades ago. It’s a system this world is hungry for.
For all it’s other wares, Stuckey’s was built on the pecan. So it only makes sense that the pecan is a major part of the plan. At the beginning of September the company announced that it had acquired Georgia pecan company Front Porch Pecans in a merger that made Front Porch’s R.G. Lamar the new Stuckey’s president. This is a move that will benefit both brands.
There are plans to for a candy plant, either by purchase or construction. The company’s old plant is still standing but years of disuse have left it unviable. So a modern plant is in the plans.
I don’t think you would call what is in the works a small business by the strictest of definitions. With stores spread across the country this is a sizable business. It is, however, a true family business. The business model is exactly the sort of concept we champion. How could we not rally around a granddaughter reviving her grandfather’s struggling business? How could we not adore a people-centered enterprise with nationwide reach from its headquarters in small town Georgia? This is the story of the year as far as I’m concerned.
So I’ll continue to watch as Stephanie Stuckey aims to make every traveler a friend, to take a bunch of good country folks and have them do the finest job you’ve ever seen, and to be honest with the public. She’ll have to work. Of course good luck won’t hurt. But that’s the example she saw while visiting Stuckey’s stores as a little girl. I think she’s quite prepared for what lies ahead.
Sam Burnham, Curator
Being a dad is, by far, the most rewarding roles I’ve ever been blessed to fill. Over the past week I’ve found myself going through so many emotions as I say goodbye to my oldest son for his first deployment with the US Navy.
Due to operational security, I can’t really say where he’s going. Suffice to say it’s far away and in every way different than his home here in Georgia. He’ll be immersed in a different culture, a different climate, a different topography, different everything. It will be hard for him to find anything that reminds him of home.
What I can say is that he is committed to duty. He is well trained, well equipped, and well prepared. He knows what is expected of him and he is eager to serve his country. While I still think of him as my little boy. I now see in him the man he has become. He has a confidence that soothes my nervousness. He treasures the camaraderie he has built within his group. For the better part of two decades it was my job as his dad to see that he had a safe and secure place to sleep at night. In the coming months I’ll lay my head on my pillow with the knowledge that I can sleep peacefully because he and his crew stand the watch. The roles have reversed exponentially.
I would be lying if I said I had no apprehensions about this. I can’t help but worry with my child in another hemisphere and in harms way. I can’t protect him from anything. I pray for his safety. I hope he never needs to use the skills he has so effectively developed. I hope he never has to take action to take the life of another. And I hope his life is never endangered. I hope he has a peaceful deployment and returns with nothing but fun stories and a pivotal life experience.
And so my son begins a grand adventure. He will return a changed man. He’ll be wiser, more educated, more experienced, and a bit more prepared to face this world as a man. He will always be my son but he’s a man now.
Sam Burnham, Curator
About that Gillette ad...
I think I'm seeing what they were trying to say. There’s a standard that we as a society should hold men to. There is an expectation for the conduct of a man that does often go unmet.
I think there is a communication breakdown when it comes to the topic of masculinity and proper male role models. With the presence of a radical feminist movement who frequently uses misandry and a definition of “toxic masculinity” that leaves no place for strong and effective men in our society, people react when they see yet another assault on men.
I think Gillette could have communicated their message better and I think people could have listened better.
My takeaway at this point, after some thought and reflection is this: Not all criticism of male behavior is intended to drag all men down. Not all feminists are radical misandrists. Not all masculinity is toxic. In fact, true masculinity is never toxic.
Masculinity is about strength, leadership, and being a role model for young men. It’s about using strength in a constructive and protective way. The men who stormed the beaches of Normandy weren’t bullies coming to harass the Germans. They were there to defend Western Civilization from a toxic usurper. There’s a line that separates playful roughhousing and malicious bullying. There’s a line between the idea of dating and courtship and the menace of sexual harassment- and BOTH sides on the argument need to understand that.
I’ve spent almost half my life, thus far, raising three men. Just yesterday the oldest became a United States Navy sailor. He and his brothers make me proud beyond words. They are strong, have courage in their convictions, expect the best from others, despise bullying, respect ladies, and offer help to those in need. They are gentlemen.
They're gentlemen because we’ve raised them that way.
I have a guide that I follow. It was composed using the teachings of Christ, the understanding of what should be expected of a man, and by a man who was tasked with mentioning and leading men. He’s often demonized today. His effect on the American left is so strong they take a few associative flaws and attempt to discard him as a whole. It is striking that when held up against him, any male leader in the American left pales in comparison.
General Robert Edward Lee, who was born on this day in 1807 gave us his timeless Definition of a Gentleman. It is the standard I’ve held my boys to. It is the standard we need to hold all American men to today. It is the line between true masculinity and the toxic pseudo-masculinity that would poison our entire society. No matter how far they march, how hard they try, this issue will never be solved by feminism. It can only be solved by men who fit this definition expecting other men to fit it as well. I’ll conclude with his definition in its entirety:
"The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.
The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly--the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light
The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others."
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire