From John Deere to pecans, the Maus family remains grounded in agriculture
JUDSONIA, ARK. – Standing between 70 and 100 feet, pecan trees tower over land like a friendly shade tree. Giving love and comfort, while serving the purpose of production for families and communities across the nation.
With a passion for agriculture and core family values, the Maus family hoped to stay true to themselves in all aspects of life, including the family business.
After selling their family-owned John Deer dealership of more than 75 years, John Maus got the opportunity from a lifelong friend, Robert “Crash” Carruthers, to take over an existing pecan orchard with over 25 years worth of successful harvests.
“Our family has always had our own businesses, but never one of this style, so we were excited to have a new adventure to all tackle together,” Anna Lee Maus, the youngest of the Maus family, said. “We’ve always done more large-scale agriculture, never growth and production agriculture, so it was a very new experience for us, and it was not easy, but we woke up every day ready to learn and grow and do better today than we did yesterday.”
Each day, the Maus family learned from Crash the ins and outs of the orchard while gathering the materials and machinery necessary for successful harvests. During these daily lessons, the Maus’ sons were taught how to work each machine and were assigned roles on the orchard and within the business.
“My brother Stephen is the only one who knows how to operate the shaker, so he shakes the trees to get the pecans to fall. My other brother, Hamp, then comes behind him and rakes them up,” Anna Lee explained. “Then my mom, Lynlee, comes by on her little tractor with a blower and blows away the sticks and rocks that are left behind.”
Like any other family business, it took time getting adjusted to the orchard. There have been ups and downs, and long days, but with open communication, creative ideas and attention to detail, the Mauses were able to take their business and open new doors in the community.
After two years of shipping pecans to other cities and states on transport trucks, the Mauses opened a shop in a strip mall get their pecans on shelf and ready for local purchase.
“Opening the store was probably the scariest part of the whole situation because none of us knew what to expect,” Anna Lee said. “It was all so new and chaotic: there were just a lot of high emotions.”
Though, despite the intensity of the opening, the family craft spoke for itself, and each bag of pecans sold out.
“It was the most successful day,” Anna Lee said. “Everyone was so excited to find our pecans have zero shells. They are 100 percent pecan meat in our fancy halves, and I think that is what sets us apart from other pecan businesses.”
Each bag of pecans is sold by the pound and packaged in Maus Pecan custom packaging.
“Opening the store has been such an eye-opening experience because it really shows how many people in the community stand in our corner,” Anna Lee said. “It is absolutely amazing getting to make these connections in and around our small town and just the support that is shown to us every day is so incredible.”
The Maus family plans to continue growing their family business and build relationships with their customers, as well as strengthen the bond between each other.
“Family businesses are hard,” Lynlee said. “It can be emotionally draining, but at the end of the day, the reward of being surrounded by my kids and husband and being a part of each step of their lives is unmatched.”
Not even to mention the physical drain working on the orchard and cleaning up the store can cause. Picking up limbs, scrubbing floors, handling heavy machinery for hours and hours throughout the day is bound to cause substantial ache in the body.
“What so many people don’t realize is all that goes into farming. Whether it be on a pecan orchard or wheat crops, most don’t realize the brain power and bodily strength it takes to produce the products,” Anna Lee said.
The Maus family has planted their deepest roots in the family business, and they plan to continue growing, learning and laughing with each other for years to come.
“This is a lifelong process, and I am so thankful and grateful to get to be a part of something so special,” Anna Lee said.