Rome wasn’t built in a day (or so they say). Likewise, pecan trees don’t grow overnight. Decades ago, a Texan named Hal Berdoll and his wife, Lisa, decided they would start a pecan grove. For years they planted trees and grew their business, raising a family amongst the immense grove of trees. Eventually, they put a sign out on Highway 71 that runs past the farm to sell pecans. Customers would come in off the highway and buy pecans out of the family’s garage. Hal, Lisa and their kids started making candy and other goodies from the pecans. Then they would test new recipes in their family kitchen.
Pecan Grove Farms
Fast forward over 30 years, today the farm is over 300 acres, has 15,000 trees in the orchard and 90,000 in the nursery.
A few years back, Hal and Lisa decided it was time to sell the grove. It now below to a company called Pecan Grove Farms. The company runs the farm on the same principles as which it was started. And it still operates very much like a family run operation.
At the helm of Administration and Finance for Pecan Grove Farms sits Stacy Whitener. I’ve heard about what a powerhouse Stacy is from multiple sources. I knew it was worth a trip to meet her.
On my visit to PGF Stacy met out front, at the Berdoll Pecan Store (more about that later…). I followed her back through hundreds of acres of pecan trees, ranging from mature trees to newer trees.
The Administrative and Financial Side of a Pecan Farm
We stopped at the small office and I followed her inside. Stacy spends most of her time at the company’s offices in Dallas. But also makes regular visits to the farm to visit with employees to go over concerns.
On that day she was working with Ruby, the office manager, to work on payroll, issues with cell phones and some other typical business stuff. She then took me on a tour of the amazing farm, starting at the nursery.
She explained that Hal Berdoll started the nursery and PGF is working hard to continue the operation. It is an important part of the business and what they do as it allows the company access to their very own, proprietary new nursery stock. This allows them to grow at their own pace and gives them flexibility and perfection in the stock they are growing.
We then stopped in at what used to be the Berdoll family home – the one Hal and Lisa sold pecans out of the garage. The sprawling home was surrounded by pecan trees as far as the eye could see and I couldn’t help but feel envious of the lucky kids who got to grow up in that little slice of paradise.
Next, we met Travis, the Farm Manager, who Stacy explained keeps everything running. If something is going on at the farm, Travis is behind it. He showed us the machinery that sorts they pecans following harvest and the area where they can shell pecans as well.
How a Business Grows
As my visit with Stacy wrapped to a close it was clear this woman was passionate about not only her role at PGF, but about the people she works with and the product they grow. She is an avid advocate for agriculture and spends part of her time volunteering with the California Women in Agriculture group to help lobby for issues that affect the industry.
Sometimes FarmHers aren’t the ones out in the field, harvesting the crop or managing the farm. Sometimes FarmHers are the administration details and the finance sense that makes the business work. And without those FarmHer’s playing that role, the business wouldn’t go or grow.
Watch the full episode at PGF.