Troyer Potato Products Inc., which bills itself as the US's only grower-owned chip maker, has agreed to sell itself to York-based Bickel's Snack Foods Inc.
This purchase, which is expected to close by the end of the month, represents more than the marriage of two small snack-food companies.
Bickel's, which was founded in 1954 by Luther Bickel - offering a unique 'seared' chip in a variety of flavours - makes snacks at five plants under its name and a variety of private labels.
Bickel's was bought in 1998 by Hanover Foods Corp., the largest independently owned maker of frozen, canned, fresh and salted snack-food products in the nation.
"This will make a much larger company that's able to compete against the Frito-Lays," said Tricia Briggs, Troyer Farms' chief financial officer.
That David-and-Goliath battle had become increasingly more difficult to win with each passing year.
Troyer Farms, which bought Cleveland-based Dan-Dee in 1984 and acquired Seyfert Foods, an Indiana-based snack-food maker, in 1984, employs about 325 people, and sells snacks in six states.
Together, those employees produce about 17 million pounds of snack food a year, including 10 million pounds of potato chips.
"The future of our employees is very important," he said. "They are like family to us, and we know they play a major role in this business."
Those same workers will continue to make and bag chips in Waterford that carry the labels of Troyer Farms, Dan-Dee and Seyfert.
The Troyer family won't be walking away from the business completely.
The family will continue to own and operate a pretzel factory in Canonsburg. They'll also continue to grow potatoes for the plant and to provide trucking services for the company.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
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