Drexel on the Road: Nuts about Pecans

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — As we prepare to enter the holiday season, lots of you probably have a certain southern delicacy on your shopping list. We’re talking about pecans!

News 5’s Drexel Gilbert is on the road in Pensacola to a long-time family-owned company where pecans are big business!

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At JW Renfroe Pecan Company, they are nuts about pecans.

But what’s happening there is not just about “business.” It’s about “family.”

“Everyone in the family has been in the business,” Ben Renfroe said.

There was a twinkle in Ben’s eyes when he talked about how his granddad, JW Renfroe Sr., started the business.

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“Granddaddy started the business in 1931, and the truth of the matter is, he loved horses, and he also loved women, and he needed a way to make a living to pay for those things,” Renfroe said.

Renfroe Sr.’s solution: selling pecans.

Through the years, Ben’s father, who just recently passed away, and his mother joined the family business. Later, Ben and his brother, Jake, and sister, Dee, jumped in.

“It’s just our culture,” Ben said. “It’s part of who we are.”

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And with each generation, innovation has streamlined getting pecans from the groves to the shelves.

“We receive the pecans in a semi between 40-42,000 pounds of pecans,” Ben said.

Thousands of pounds of pecans are run through machines where they are weighed, sized, washed, cracked, shelled, separated and cleaned.

“Each of our bins will hold about 5,000 pounds of pecans,” plant manager Bret Richardson said. “My target? I try to crack one to one and a half of those a day.”

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The pecans are cleaned for a second time, but then, by hand, before being packed up to become candy, pies and other holiday goodies.

“It’s the glue,” Richardson said. “I like to think that brings the family together during the holiday season.”

It’s one of Pensacola’s “family” traditions that’s a lot of work, but also fun and tasty.

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