America’s Best Nut Co. in Rocky Mount is not looking to compete with large peanut manufacturers such as Planters.
Instead, the company’s goal is to provide large gourmet peanuts in unusual flavors that will bring customers back, co-owner Betsy Owens said.
“When people ask, ‘What’s the difference in yours?’ We always say, ‘The difference is the taste.’ Ours are the same every time you buy them,” she said. “I’d say Planters is a good product, a reliable product, but ours are better. They are larger. They are cooked a different way. They have a little bit of a different flavor, so I would say that ours fit into the gourmet category, and maybe Planters does not.”
The family run business sells a variety of peanuts grown in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The recipes come from those used by Southern farm families for many generations, the company’s website states. Owens, a North Carolinian, owns and operates the company with her husband, Jack Lawrence, who grew up in upstate New York.
Raw peanuts are delivered to the facility, a former fire station at 3041 N. Church Street. The peanuts are processed there, vacuum packed and then sold retail there or shipped to wholesale customers such as The Funky Trunk in Nashville. The peanuts are not sold in grocery stores but are available online.
“We ship to wholesale locations by UPS or truck or whatever is required, depending on the size of the order,” Owens said.
America’s Best Nut Co. started in 2003. The business is similar to Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts in Enfield.
“They are about 50 years older than we are. We are friendly competitors,” Owens said.
The couple came to America’s Best Nut Co. after many years work with other companies. Her work experience includes long service with a peanut growers’ industry group.
“We’ve both been here a long time,” Owens said. “I had worked for peanut farmers at Virginia-Carolina Peanut Promotions for my career, so this is my encore career. Since I already know a lot about peanuts, we figured it would be a fun and engaging business, so that’s how we got into this. My husband is retired from the textile world, and he got tired of being a yardman, so that’s another reason we started the business.”
“Peanuts are a good buy,” Owens said. “I think people realize that you get a lot of good taste and nutrition for the money you spend when you buy peanuts.”
Q: What products or services do you provide?
A: We provide gourmet peanut products. In addition to raw, we have four different vacuum-packed products. We have Southern Homestyle, which is roasted and lightly salted, a kind of classic gourmet peanut. We have Sea-Nuts, and they are seasoned with sea salt. We have Wingnuts that are smoky barbecued flavored. We have the raw-shelled Redskins.
All our peanuts are the super extra large sized. They are Virginia-type peanuts. They are grown in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. ... It’s very likely that some of our peanuts are grown in Nash County. North Carolina grows the most of the three states that I mentioned, so its highly possible we’re getting what is grown nearby.
Q: Who are your key leaders?
A: Betsy Owens and Jack Lawrence.
Q: How many people do you employ?
A: We have one full-time employee now besides us, and during the holiday time, we have other employees as needed.
Q: What is your business philosophy?
A: We like to serve people with very best gourmet peanut products and give them the very best service.
Q: What makes your business unique?
A: We make sure that we do our process the same every time. We measure everything. We cook according to the same temperature guidelines. We are very careful in our process, and we believe that we have one of the best peanut products that is out there.
Q: How has your business grown last few years?
A: It’s a steady growth. We’re too big not to have more employees and too small to have more employees. We do not have a sales force. If we did, I’m sure that we would grow by leaps and bounds, but we’ve just grown slowly. We have a lot of loyal customers who buy from us all the time. We’ve just grown very gradually over the years.
Q: What kind of growth do you expect in the coming years?
A: We certainly want to grow more than the cost of living. We would like to increase sales by 10 or 15 percent, at least.