b'ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTELIZABETH DAVIS PHOTOGRAPHY Global Sales: Jeff Worn, CEO and president of South Georgia Pecan, a leading U.S. sheller and processor of pecans located in Valdosta, Georgia.manufactures about 100 millionhalves, pieces, chocolate amaretto, roasted pounds of pecans, almonds, andsalted, and cinnamon spice pecans, to name walnuts between its two locations.a few. While pecans are its biggest sellers, the company also processes and distributes Before the 1920s, pecans werewalnuts, almonds, and pistachios. hand-shelled by consumers or in small processing plants. Today, largeWhile the processing and distribution shelling facilities, like South Georgiaof pecans and other nuts remain the Pecan, include millions of dollarscompanys top priority, in 2018, South worth of equipment to handle sizing,Georgia Pecan launched Purely Pecans, cracking, separating edible meat froma line of natural products including an shells, grading the meat, washing,assortment of pecan butter and snacks.drying, and packaging. A typical pecan harvest only lasts a fewgeorgiapecancorp.commonths; however, South Georgia PecanWe are setting our plants up to run processing facilities are operational allsubstantially more capacity to meet year. Normally, October and Novembercurrent and future demands, says are our busiest months, Worn says. WhenWorn, emphasizing its more than COVID hit in quarter one and quarterrobotics and upgraded technology. two, we saw huge spikes and the type ofThe companys shift also includes volume we have in the fall.changes in workforce dynamics. The COVID pandemic and its socialWithout a strong corporate culture, distance requirements, plus continuingpeople arent going to want to work labor shortages, have affirmed Southhere, says Worn, a 2008 graduate Georgia Pecans commitment to continueof Valdosta State University. What automating more of its productionmotivates people to work? Were processes.trying to think outside the box to create a work environment, a culture Efficiency Focused that is healthy and one that will Starting as a small shelling plant in 1913,optimize continuous improvements. South Georgia Pecans main facility and corporate office is located in Valdosta,South Georgia Pecan, a leading Lowndes County, with a second plant inU.S. sheller and processor, sells an El Paso, Texas. Each year, the companyassortment of pecans in whole, 30 SG MAGAZINE| WINTER 2022 BUSINESS + CULTURE31'