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National Nut Company is new to Hudson but started in 1974

Steve Lamke stands in the retail area of National Nut Company which he and his wife Gayle own. They recently relocated the business from Ellsworth to Hudson. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl

It is probably safe to say that Steve and Gayle Lamke love nuts. They own The National Nut Company which they moved to Hudson just a few weeks ago. Steve started in the business in 1974 packaging and selling holiday tins of assorted nuts. Within two years he realized with a lot of work he could go full-time. Since 1976, Lamke has worked 60 to 80 hours a week, something he continues to do although he knows he should slow down. After retiring from Dayton's in 1994 his wife Gayle joined him in the business.

"There is not one (a nut business) on every corner," said Lamke of his decision all those years ago. It has served the couple well. They source top quality nuts and dried fruit like walnuts, pecans and raisins from sources in California, Georgia and Texas. They also work with importers and exporters to bring in the highest quality of products from around the world.

"It started as a retail operation and became more wholesale as time went on," said Lamke. "We still have a retail store and offer 180 different items."

The list includes nuts, seeds, dried fruit, trail mixes, snack mixes, as well as chocolate and yogurt covered versions.

"We do all our own roasting and have since 1974," said Lamke. "This includes cashews, almonds, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and more."

Lamke uses oleic sunflower oil (a mono-saturated fat) and sea salt in the roasting process.

"We try to get our cashews out to the customer within a day or two of roasting," said Lamke. Freshness and quality are the keys to his success. National Nut Company roasts one million pounds of nuts a year.

"We wanted to be closer to I-94," said Lamke, regarding the move from Ellsworth to Hudson. "Most of our deliveries are to the Twin Cities and we needed more space and required a loading dock." Since the couple lives in River Falls, the decision to move to Hudson made sense for personal reasons as well, both of them citing the assortment of restaurants and shopping options available as an added benefit.

"It is kind of fun," said Lamke, despite the long hours. "I have always enjoyed it and never real considered work. I love the holiday part, creating gifts for people. It is an exciting time of year."

The company packages and sells items for fund-raising. It also provides wholesale products to the food service industry, bakery shops and candy shops small and large.

Steve and Gayle both have their favorite items.

"I can never get enough cashews," said Lamke.

"Right now my favorite is the gourmet trail mix," said Gayle, who admits her favorite changes occasionally. They create their own mixes.

The National Nut Company retail store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It is located at 2737 Harvey Street in St. Croix Business Park. For more information, call (715) 690-2972 or go to