Family Owned Since 1929
The story of Shute Pecan Company begins with Robert Ingersoll Shute. After returning home from World War I, he gave up the title “Farm Boy” to operate a press shop in Enterprise, Alabama. By the age of 36, Robert had already proved his ability as one of the most progressive businessmen in the Wiregrass. In 1924, he owned and operated the Cash Grocery Store on the square in Hartford, Alabama. He advanced his business interests in 1927 to Dothan, in the grocery business.
In 1929, he combined pecan buying with the grocery business. Eggs, chickens, cane syrup, butter, and other commodities (including pecans in the fall months) were exchanged for staple items such as flour and sugar. The original business was located in the old Dothan Bank and Trust Company building at the northeast corner of Main Street and St. Andrew Street. Later, a warehouse was built at 117 E. Crawford Street.
Following the death of Robert Shute on May 17, 1944, the business was continued by his wife, Flora, and their sons. Upon the death of his mother on January 16, 1963, David and his wife Jean continued the operation of Shute Pecan Company. When the young Shutes took over the business, they increased an emphasis on nuts by both buying and selling pecans.
The year 1968 would be the final year of pecan buying at the warehouse on E. Crawford Street. As Dothan’s downtown area was seeing a growth in business, the traffic and congestion was increasing. This led David and Jean Shute to set their eyes on an expansion. They purchased a lot of land on Ross Clark Circle for a future site of Shute Pecan Company. At the end of July 1969, a building permit was issued for the construction of a new warehouse. The new warehouse was opened on October 3rd of that year.
David and Jean would expand the warehouse twice, opening part of it as a retail store and mail order department. As soon as it was completed, they needed more room for growth. An opportunity to expand again would present itself as a building across the street became available. David and Jean seize on the chance to expand further and opened Shute Pecan Company’s first standalone retail store.
In 1993, David Shute passed away after a battle with cancer. Reeling from the loss of her life partner in marriage and business, Jean plunged into her job. In 1994, Shute Pecan Company enjoyed the biggest pecan crop ever. “Looking back, I wondered how I survived that year in business,” Jean admits. “I had to rely heavily on my faith for the strength to get through that time without Dave. It was tough to switch gears and shoulder all the responsibility.”
Jean said the business prospered because of the company’s efforts to offer quality products and provide the best customer service possible. “With any farm, commodity, you have good years and bad years,” she said. “My advice for anyone in business is to plan for the lean times. Everyone must face trials in their business, but preparation can be a key asset.”
Today, Jean and David’s daughter, Sandi Shute Hodge, and her husband John, continue to uphold the ethical and balanced work procedures that have made Shute Pecan Company a strong and vital business in the Dothan community. Sandi and her team maintain the company’s loyal customer base, comprised of third and fourth generation clients, that still shop for their pecans and gifts at Shute Pecan Company.