How Martin Kanan has diversified King Nut Companies’ customer base

Martin Kanan, president and CEO, King Nut Companies

Martin Kanan, president and CEO, King Nut Companies

NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Family Business Award



Martin Kanan

president and CEO

King Nut Companies


Martin Kanan joined King Nut Companies in 1991 as the company’s sales manager. Kanan was named president and CEO of King Nut in 2003, and since joining the company its growth has been driven by his desire to make the family business a success and the risks he has taken in leading the company.

King Nut is known for serving the airline industry with snack foods. As the company’s sales manager, Kanan started to call on US Airways in 1993 after he heard that it needed someone to supply peanuts. He pursued all of the other airlines with little success while trying to meet the demands of US Airways.

One of the biggest challenges in his career was meeting the quality standards of US Airways. Eventually, King Nut lost the contract. However, due to Kanan’s efforts through his relentless pursuit of the other airlines, he signed on Northwest just as they were losing the US Airways business.

As Kanan continued to pursue additional business at airline shows, Anheuser Bush closed Eagle Brands and King Nut was able to secure the business of the other airlines. This business came with many challenges, which Kanan handled head-on through managing his team and his investment in new equipment.

Kanan has been no stranger to other challenges at King Nut since becoming CEO. He has dealt with a transition from peanuts to other snack foods within the airline industry, the Sept. 11 tragedy and its impact on the company’s business, the acquisition and integration of Peterson Nut Co., and a national recall due to King Nut product that was co-packed by another peanut butter manufacturer.

Today, King Nut is not only a growing supplier of snack foods to the airline industry, but also sells product to the likes of Wendy’s, Giant Eagle, Speedway, and co-packs product for Pepperidge Farm, ConAgra and Aldi.

How to reach: King Nut Companies,