Guerra Nut Shelling
Guerra Family in Hollister

History of Guerra Nut Shelling

A New Beginning

The Guerra Family story is one of “America, the land of opportunity” for Antonio Guerra and his sons Carl and Frank.  Antonio came to the United States from Italy in the 1890's in search of a better life than the one he had left behind.  He worked on the railroad in the Pacific Northwest and eventually migrated to San Jose, California.

In 1918, Antonio’s teenage son Frank came to Hollister, California to visit relatives and liked it so well that he stayed to complete his high school education and go on to Junior College.  His parents, brother Carl and two sisters followed in 1920.  When he arrived in Hollister, Antonio took to farming and operated a small winery.  He continued in agriculture until his death in 1941.

The Guerra Nut Shelling Company

The Guerra Nut Shelling Company had its beginning during the depression years when brothers Carl and Frank employed several neighbors to work in the garages behind their homes.  Their employees used mallets to crack the walnuts and small screwdrivers to remove the meats from the shells.

Frank returned to the walnut business in 1947, after a five year sabbatical.  While he wasn’t in walnuts during his time away, Frank was still in processed food - working in the canned and frozen food industries in Hollister and in nearby Watsonville.  When Frank’s son Anthony returned from military service in 1947, Frank and Anthony joined Carl to form the Guerra Nut Shelling Company. 

Guerra Family and NeighborsDuring their first year in business, the plant shelled 200 tons of walnuts and dried apricots, pears and peaches that they grew or purchased from local growers.  Since that time, the company has focused its attention on walnuts and currently process as many as 10,000 tons a year.  In the beginning, most of the walnuts the Company processed were grown in San Benito County, near the coast of Central California.  Today the majority of the walnuts come from California’s Central Valley Counties of Yuba, Sutter, San Joaquin and Stanislaus.

The original plant was contained within 4,500 square feet of space.  Today’s operation requires 60,000 square feet of warehouse and processing space and an additional 18,000 square feet of refrigerated storage. 

Hammers and screwdrivers are no longer a part of the process.  The operation is now completely automated with the exception of final sorting which is still done manually. The season at Guerra Nut Shelling runs about ten months of the year with from 40 to 60 sorters working eight hour shifts and fifteen full time maintenance people working to maintain the plant and orchards year round.

Frank and Carl GuerraProudly marketed under the CAL-BEST brand, finished product is packaged in bulk for sale to bakeries, candy makers and other institutional buyers.  The recent addition of a consumer packaging line makes CAL-BEST quality available under a customer’s private label.

Continuing the Family Tradition

Though Carl, Frank and Anthony have passed away, Anthony’s son Frank heads up a management team which now includes four Guerra family members.  The tradition to provide quality walnut products is now into its fourth generation.  As one of the oldest walnut processing companies in the industry, the Guerra Family’s commitment to quality and service is the same as it was when the company was started over 60 years ago - a commitment that continues to set the industry standard by which other walnut processors are measured.

© 2009 Guerra Nut Shelling Company    Hollister, CA    Web Site Design by Schipper Design+