What’s your biggest advice for readers?
Life is short…..Go Nuts! I have a sign by my desk that says everything is “figureoutable.” Be smart in your decisions and you can make everything “figureoutable.”
Where does Exceptionally Nuts sell?
We have locations in the Bismarck Event Center and work at most of their events. We travel to a few off-site events like the ND State Fair, Hostfest and Pride of Dakota Showcases. Recently, we have added a wholesale location where we produce our product for stores.
A Sweet Treat
Exceptionally Nuts prides themselves on also doing corporate gifts and special events. Exceptionally Nuts Cinnamon Almonds and Sunflower Seeds make the perfect treat for your employees and customers!
Marisa Iverson – CEO & Operator, Exceptionally Nuts
Marisa Iverson’s road to success is nothing short of nuts. She opened her first kiosk in the Bismarck Event Center in October of 2004, selling freshly roasted cinnamon almonds and sunflower seeds. More recently, this last fall, Iverson expanded the wholesale/distribution side of the business. Today, she’s impacting communities far and wide while looking toward bigger and better opportunities ahead.
What was your journey like for you to get to the position you’re at today?
Our journey has been an adventure! We are fortunate to be able to provide a product that puts a smile on people’s faces. We love what we do and hope that our customers not only get a delicious snack but also have a positive interaction along the way. We appreciate our customers and enjoy getting to know them. It is very rewarding to be told that the only reason they came to the event was to get a bag of our almonds. We like hearing this even if it isn’t always the entire truth…
Which parts of taking this risk will stick with you forever?
The biggest risk that we have taken with our business is currently happening as we are expanding the wholesale side of Exceptionally Nuts. This has been a dream of ours for many years. Walking into our new wholesale space was pretty exciting. It is great to have a fulltime staff and production area. One of my best memories was the first pallet of product leaving our facility, which just happened a few weeks ago!
What steps were the hardest when taking the leap to start your own business?
Letting go of the things that you can’t control! I have a hard time not being able to plan everything, but sometimes you just have to let things happen.
How have you expanded Exceptionally Nuts since opening?
We just expanded our wholesale side of the business in late 2021, which focuses on distribution to stores around the region.
What was a typical day in your life like when you were beginning Exceptionally Nuts?
One of the benefits of my business was that no day was quite ever the same. I would work a weekend of 12-14 hour shifts and then do office work for a few days. Then we would be busy preparing for the next event, getting supplies, setting up, scheduling, etc. Because we were event-based we were able to have a flexible schedule that allowed me to stay at home with my kids when they were small and I would work at the events on nights and weekends. It was very chaotic when I would add up the hours that I spent working and taking care of my kids.
What would you have done differently if you could go back and start again, knowing what you know now?
I would probably tell myself to relax and that it will all work out in the end. I now understand that there is always a silver lining, no matter what the obstacle may be. We have had two very specific instances of this happening with our business. The first happened in 2014 when we were on the way to the North Dakota State Fair. Our cargo trailer carrying our entire business and all of our product for the fair started on fire and was a total loss. Luckily, we had some support from our family in the almond business in Fargo and Grand Forks, so we were able to work the Fair with borrowed equipment.
It led us to a crossroads, as to whether we should quit the business or rebuild. This terrible thing turned out to be the best thing as it forced us to rebrand and rebuild our entire business. Without this happening, I am not sure where would be today. The other instance occurred in 2020. With event centers closed, I was forced to take a breath and focus on what we could do to take our product to the customers instead of the customers coming to us at events. We were able to partner with a local distribution company and are currently in about 100 store locations with more being added each week.
What else would you like to add regarding your personal experience in taking this risk?
Make sure your timing is right when taking a risk. It took me 17 years to take the risk to expand our wholesale side of the business. It was important to me that the timing was right for our family and that my whole team was on board.
What made you decide that the Bis-Man area would be a great place to start a business?
I think there is a lot of opportunity in the Bis-Man area! The Bis-Man area is filled with many great people who support local businesses. We are thankful for our loyal customer base and enjoy the friendships that have formed through the years.
What do most people not know about Exceptionally Nuts?
Our secret ingredient is our smell. I guess that might be obvious if you have ever attended an event where we are roasting almonds and seeds! In all seriousness, we love our smell and never get tired of our customers raving about it!
What is something you wish more people knew about your company?
Our products can be reheated at home so they taste and smell just like they do at the Event Center. All of our heating instructions are on the back of the package. I also wish that more people knew how amazing our products are to be used in other ways, like on top of ice cream, in a salad, or with yogurt. Check out our Instagram/Facebook for some videos of our favorite recipes.
What is a day in your life like for you now?
We balance our time between our office at our wholesale facility and working events at the event center. I have two full-time and a few part-time employees that assist in working events/production. Many days, I turn into a kid taxi at 3 p.m. and have a lot of events to attend for my kids, so it is great to have wonderful employees to help with the day-to-day!
What’s one thing the local business community could do to help you/your organization?
Support small, local businesses. We really are the heart of the community! Support businesses that you can change their day by making a sale.
Are you looking to expand Exceptionally Nuts? If so, how?
We are currently in expansion mode right now getting into stores. Our goal is to be in twice the number of stores next year at this time. I would love to be the next great North Dakota snack food! We have also expanded into doing fundraising! We have a great time helping clubs, sports teams, and churches achieve their fundraising goals.