For Marshall Rabil’s family, peanuts aren’t just a business. Ever since his grandparents began selling them back in 1954, it’s been more like a way of life.
“We never stop talking about it,” Marshall said. “We’ll be sitting around the dinner table talking and my dad will say, ‘Okay, enough about peanuts.'”
Hubs began as so many great food companies do – through sharing a beloved recipe. In 1954 Dot Hubbard began cooking peanuts in Sedley, Virginia, and her husband H.J. sold them. They caught on quickly with family and friends, and no wonder: Instead of the traditional dry roasting, Dot was water-blanching the peanuts and cooking in coconut oil. And the rest is history.
Fast forward more than 60 years and Hubs Peanuts is still going strong, through the hard work of the same family. Marshall’s mother Lynne Rabil runs the company now, which is still based in Sedley. The offices are in the home Lynne grew up in – in fact, her office is in her old bedroom.
Lynne was a teacher before taking over the company, and when Dot decided to hand Hubs over to someone else, Lynne volunteered herself. Eventually her siblings got involved too – today they all sit on the Hubs board.
“I say that I’m president and CEO by virtue of being the first child,” Lynne said.
It’s not only upper management that’s carrying on the company’s tradition of family. Some of the Hubs staff have been working there several generations as well, Marshall said.
While working closely with family usually means that business never really stops, it also gives everyone the ability to be creative and make decisions without going through the usual bureaucracy, said Marshall.
For Lynne, having family involved in the business is a balancing act between different opinions and ideas about how to best run things.
“You talk to family and deal with family differently than you would someone on the outside,” Lynne said. “Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it isn’t.”
The business has changed so much, especially to keep up with technology, said Lynne. Back in 1979 when she took over, no one was taking credit cards, and the Internet was still years away. All the changes have brought the company forward, but also paved the way for more competition, she said.
It’s all kept Lynne very grounded – she has no trouble taking on any role for her company. Everyone wears many hats at Hubs, she said.
“As president and CEO you think of someone as a conductor of the orchestra, but I play a lot of little instruments too,” she said. “I’m a jack of all trades, but I’m a master of very little.”
It’s the company’s history that really makes them stand out among their competitors, Marshall said. The USDA didn’t even have an official category for the super extra-large peanuts Dot and H.J were selling when they started out.
“She was the originator,” said Marshall. “She was the pioneer of putting Virginia peanuts on the map.”
Look for Hubs peanuts in our Touchdown Treats October box, or order more online at lovewithfood.com/shop!