Everything but the squirrels is for sale at Russell’s Pecans and Fine Candy in Gholson, where the Russell family and 1,500 pampered pecan trees have delivered the goods, and goodies, to Central Texas for generations.
Patriarch Dann Russell, 71, said he and real estate agent Josh Carter welcome offers from nearly anyone. But they will not let the property go for peanuts. The complex includes a 122-acre orchard, family residences, a retail store, processing facilities and a business built on longevity and happy customers.
A promotional brochure lists the price at $5.4 million.
“Long story short, all my parts are not working as good as they used to. When you get older, you start having problems,” Russell said, discussing the family’s decision to part with the farm. “My son is approaching 50, and he has some health problems. My two grandsons are not much interested in the pecan business. I thought it was a good time to step away. Not necessarily today or next week, but whenever we find the right person.”
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If it sells, fine. If it does not, Russell said he and his son, Matthew Russell, will keep plugging. Matthew Russell runs the place. Dann Russell holds title to it.
“Make no mistake about it, Russell’s Pecans and Fine Candy will remain open and continue in full-swing as we work to find a new owner who will carry on the operation into the future,” Carter, with Coldwell Banker Commercial, said by email. “This unique property features 1,500 pecan trees producing a dozen different varieties of top quality pecans.”
Carter said the offering includes orchards, two single-family residences, commercial buildings, agricultural equipment and specialized machinery.
Dann Russell said owning a pecan orchard is not for everyone. The work is seasonal, the busiest times between October and February or March.
“Like any agricultural business, you put in what you put in,” Russell said, meaning a farmer works until the job is done, however long that might take. “There is harvesting, shelling, sacking and dealing with retail stores.
“You go with the flow, try to stay ahead of things.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc on many businesses played no role in the family’s decision to sell if possible.
“When the economy is bad, our business gets better, though I would not wish hardship on anybody,” Russell said. “People will always find a little money to celebrate the holidays. A good year is a good year. We would not have been in business nearly 100 years if we were not making a profit.”
Russell’s makes money in various ways. It sells product at the family’s own retail store, and offers pecans wholesale to other retailers. It performs cracking and shelling services to the public, its customer base stretching from Austin to Weatherford, “and almost to Abilene,” Russell said.
He said products occasionally are used in fundraising.
A buyer inclined to continue farming operations “could step right in and go from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ without a lot of headaches. The sale includes everything, lock stock and barrel, including a ton of specialized equipment for cracking, shelling and processing,” Russell said. “The asking price, I believe, reflects what it cost us to get there, to get where the business is today.”
But Russell knows would-be buyers may have other ideas.
“A lot of things could be done,” he said. “Look at what’s happening in McLennan County right now. Housing and land activity is super, super good. People are coming from all over. Business is showing up and opening doors.”
Someone may prefer building homes to growing pecans, Russell said.
Buildings shown on the Coldwell Banker brochure include an equipment barn, sorting and drying plant, a small storage building and a storage house, a retail store with processing facilities and a warehouse, and two residences.
The list of personal property and business equipment is extensive, including a walk-in freezer with a new $4,500 compressor, vibrating inspection table, pecan crackers, power pruners, an elevator and conveyor system, diesel fuel tank, shaker, de-shucker implement, hydraulic dump trailer, chainsaws, air blowers, harvesters and mowers, and much more.
“Five generations built this family-owned operation into what is recognized as the leading pecan producer in Central Texas,” a property overview on the brochure says.
It says each pecan tree is watered through an underground irrigation system more than 18 miles long.
“These orchards have been meticulously cared for and maintained above industry standards, producing 12 different varieties of Texas pecans.”