Baker’s Southern Traditions

Roxobel, NC  |  Danielle Baker  |  www.bakerspeanuts.com

I’m trying to wear all these different hats and figure it out on my own, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel if there’s someone who can step up and help

WHAT THEY DO  They are a specialty peanut processing company. Raw peanuts from 75-acres of the family farm come in and candies and peanut-snacks go out to wholesale and retail customers. They invest in quality peanuts from the beginning and they keep tabs from planting all the way through harvesting, the grading process, and the shelving process in order to ensure they are starting with the best. They are currently processing 3,000 to 4,000 peanuts a week that are transformed into products like the Carolina Cajun Peanut, the simple Lightly Salted Blister Fried Peanut, and, new last year, is a Sea Salt Caramel Bark and a Dark Chocolate Bark. You can find Bakers’ Peanuts in Harris-Teeter, Lowe’s Foods, Publix, and Kroger as well as specialty shops across North Carolina.

UNDER THE CAPE  Danielle married into the Baker family and quickly took up the farmer lifestyle, keeping books for the Baker Family Farm. As their children got older, Danielle toyed with the idea of taking a crop they were already growing, adding value to it ,and selling it straight to the consumer. In 2006, she started selling a few things to see how viable the business was, and it continued to grow until 2013 when she finally took on Bakers’ Southern Traditions full-time. Danielle is passionate about sharing agriculture with the world. “We’re constantly asked about peanuts growing on trees, and if you’re not connected to it then you really don’t know.” She loves helping people make those connections.

PLANT THE SEED AND WATCH IT GROW  When Danielle first started out, they were processing about 4,000 pounds of peanuts a year and now they are doing that every week. Her first customers were people she met at shows and festivals before eventually getting some permanent spots on shelves at specialty shops across the state. Two years ago, Danielle also picked up a distributor and can be found in more than 550 grocery stores across the state, but she is careful not to loose touch with her smaller retail shops. Her growth continues to climb as new retailers are requesting her peanuts, and sales are up about ten to fifteen percent year-over-year.

GETTING TECHNICAL  As a small business owner without much background in manufacturing, Danielle has worn all the hats, even when some of them did not quite fit. She has since taken a step back to prioritize where her focus should be, hired people to help and is taking advantage of resources like the SBTDC. Her counselor has taken on a support role by helping with operations and technology issues. Jaime conducted a technology assessment of their space and presented them with a flow chart detailing how their technology is currently working, what they need from their computer systems and how to get there. He provided a wiring diagram, suggested necessary materials and  provided a list of potential contractors. “Jaime helped us tremendously with our IT issues. He came in, explained how to resolve them and got us going in the right direction, and that’s been incredible because there is nothing more frustrating than trying to make your computer work.” She is now working with her counselors to set financial goals for the future and developing human resource strategies.

SEEING THE FUTURE  Although Danielle and her team could be selling more, they simply cannot meet demand because of space constraints. She is also ready to move several of her team from part-time to full-time, but her cook staff has to stop work so chocolate in the candy will set properly. As a result of a collaborative effort between The Support Center and the SBTDC, she has received a $224,000 loan from the Support Center as well as a $100,000 building re-use grant. However, as a result of complications and delays, they have been waiting for their move-in date for nearly a year. Danielle is hesitant to give a likely date now, but her fingers are crossed it will not be much longer.

THE HERO QUOTIENT  When Danielle realized that she was ready to move to a new facility and started scanning real estate for potential new locations, she knew that her business model was not keeping her in Roxobel, a town in Bertie County with a population of 227. She could go to Raleigh or Charlotte and still buy her peanuts from the family farm. But she felt that the town and its people had been good to her and she hopes that she can do something positive for the people in her area in return. “I feel like that would be a little of me being able to give back, “she says. And so she stays and currently employs ten people from her community.

This story was originally published in the SBTDC 2018 Success Stories.  View the entire publication here.

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