Customer Stories | Jun 14, 2022

Customer Q&A: How 38 Pecans Continues To Grow With Shippo

Hasan Nabulsi

When most people think of pecans, certain things may come to mind. Pies, Autumn, and The Nutcracker to name a few. But for Mark Walls, founder of 38 Pecans, other things like family, tradition, and business come to mind. Something else unique to him: shipping.

38 Pecans was established in 1958 by Edmund “Doc” Darilik, grandfather of Mark Walls, when he started a pecan orchard right in the heart of Texas. As a third-generation pecan grower, Mark and his team continue to grow their award-winning pecans from Seguin, Texas, and ship them all over the U.S. and to certain countries internationally.

While growing and harvesting pecans is in Mark’s DNA, knowing the complexity of shipping was not. Thankfully, he didn’t have to learn too much to find success in shipping his delicious products.

38 Pecans has been growing and shipping with Shippo for over 4 years now. We were honored to host Mark at our company’s offsite in Austin, Texas where we got to hear his story about how he went from bouncing between different 9-5 jobs to finally pursuing his passion and embracing what has been in front of him all along.

Energized and inspired by the conversation, we wanted to highlight 38 Pecans to share that feeling with other merchants.

Getting To The Root of 38 Pecans

While Mark has had the Pecan orchard in his family his whole life, he wasn’t always a pecan grower. For many years, Mark worked as a professional salesman. But as he was bouncing around companies selling different products, there was no product he was as passionate to talk about as his family’s pecans.

However, it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that Mark decided to pursue starting a business himself. After having been laid off and with his back against the wall, he decided to go all in on 38 Pecans. At the time, all he knew was that he was passionate about pecans and the ones in his orchard were far superior to the ones on store shelves.

The business started initially selling in person during the fall and winter (aka harvesting season). However, Mark realized soon after that relying on Q4 sales alone wasn’t going to cut it for a year-long business. The answer? E-commerce sales.

Initially, 38 Pecans began establishing a stronger local presence by selling wholesale to grocery companies in Texas such as H-E-B. In fact, Mark entered 38 Pecans’ Texas Pecan Coating Mix into H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best Competition and was able to win among 740 other contestants.

Since then, 38 Pecans has expanded to have an online store in which customers can order different flavored candy pecans, savory pecans, and spicy pecans from 4oz bags up to 5 lbs at a time. There is also the option to buy flavored pecan meal that is used as a breading to get that crispy flavor you love in different meals while also maintaining your dietary needs.

The Process And What Makes 38 Pecans Unique

38 Pecans doesn’t operate like your typical online store. There are over 2,700 native and improved trees at the orchard producing between 125,000 to 200,000 pecans…plus another 2,500 trees across two other orchards and there are only three people running the day-to-day operations.

Throughout the year, the staff manages the trees ensuring that potential diseases are rooted out before they can affect the pecans. As part of a morning routine, Mark and his dad drive around the orchard while sipping on coffee, inspecting the trees, and looking for anything out of the ordinary.

Once the pecans are ready, a special machine is used to shake the trees causing all of the pecans to fall to the ground. Once all the pecans are on the ground, another machine is used to scoop them up. Once the grounds are cleaned, the team then separates the pecans from any twigs or leaves. The pecans are then removed from their shells, cleaned, and are stored in 30lb or 5lb cases.  Pecans are then shipped out to be turned into delicious candy.  They are then either shipped out either in bulk to retail stores or individually to customers across the country.

While many e-commerce merchants have separate places for manufacturing, storage, fulfillment, and shipping, 38 Pecans handles almost everything from one general area.

As peaceful as the offseason mornings can be, peak season can be quite nuts to say the least. From mid-October to February, business booms and the need to ship and fulfill orders kicks into high gear. Even with additional help from staff during that time period, the process was overwhelming and time-consuming.

E-commerce Shipping, A Tough Nut To Crack

Even though the process to get his products ready to ship is so different from other e-commerce businesses, his process to ship started out like so many others. Standing in line at the post office.

The time it would take to wait in line and purchase labels from the carrier store was time that could’ve been used to fulfill other orders or maintain the orchard. On top of that, paying retail rates for shipping labels was not conducive for a new business trying to keep up with demand.

Alongside that, 38 Pecans works with a lot of companies in Austin and around Texas. The orders Mark receives often come by way of a spreadsheet with what could be over 100 names on that sheet at a time. Manually entering in each individual name and information in order to create a shipping label was also extremely time-consuming.

38 Pecans tried to integrate with a different multi-carrier shipping solution but quickly found that it only made things more complicated. But Mark didn’t give up and reached out to Shippo.

“I sent an email to your team and got an immediate response. Your bulk download feature absolutely saved us. For someone that often ships out a lot of products, that feature is invaluable. It saves so much time.”

How Shippo Has Helped 38 Pecans Expand and Grow

As mentioned earlier, Mark has been using Shippo to help ship his products for over four years. Over that course of time, Shippo has been there every step of the way to help the 38 Pecans team ship faster and more efficiently.

“I try to be as efficient as I can. That’s why Shippo is so important. We grow the pecans, manage the orchards, harvest the pecans, and get the pecans into a position where we can turn them into candy, wholesale and retail them. Shippo just takes shipping off my plate and works every time. Shippo does what we expect it to do, all the time.”

Even when it came to shipping to new markets, Shippo was able to lend a helping hand.

“Shipping internationally is not easy, but your customer service is great. One of the things I struggle with is shipping to Canada and dealing with the international rules etc.  Every customer service rep at Shippo provides me with quick, detailed answers to get our products out the door…every time.”

Working with a new tech product can be overwhelming, especially for a logistical process that many people don’t have a foundational knowledge of. We strive to provide a shipping experience similar to 38 Pecans in that we are reliable, personable, and do everything we can to help your business grow.

“Your team always helps me out so quickly. You provide everything I need you to do. Your platform is very intuitive, easy, the rates are more than fair, the features are there – everything just works.”

The 38 Pecans retail store is currently closed and will reopen Friday, October 28, 2022. However, you can order online now and during the peak season to find out what pecans are truly supposed to taste like. Choose from flavors like milk chocolate, mesquite BBQ, Jalapeno spice, cajun, or get them plain to mix with other foods.

Visit 38 Pecans online to see their full lineup of products.

Hasan Nabulsi is the Content Marketing Manager at Shippo.

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