PFMA welcomes new members
Two retail members and one associate member have joined PFMA since September.
High’s Stores and Carroll Motor Fuel is a convenience store headquartered in Baltimore, Md., with several locations in southern Pennsylvania. The chain joined PFMA as a retail member in September. The High’s brand began as a Mid-Atlantic ice cream store chain in 1928, growing to become one of the world’s most popular ice cream store chains. Carroll Independent Fuel Company acquired the chain in 2012. Today, it operates 54 convenience stores with more than 500 employees.
Based in Luzerne County, Pantryquik is another new convenience store chain that joined PFMA as a retail member. Pantryquick offers drinks, snacks, fast food and gas.
In October, Westfield Egg Farm joined PFMA as an associate member. Westfield Egg Farm is a local Pennsylvania farm that specializes in eggs from cage-free hens. They are proud to be one of the certified, humane free-range farms chosen by Nature’s Yoke to provide healthy, organic eggs.
The year Babe Ruth made headlines for breaking his third home run record, Bill and Salie Utz were preparing to knock it out of the park in the snack world.
One hundred years ago in a small-town kitchen in Hanover, Pa., Bill and Salie Utz made some simple changes to a household favorite that created a modern snacking empire. They believed potato chips should be made from clean, simple ingredients and that they should be minimally processed to bring out the natural flavor of farm-fresh potatoes.
With a $300 initial investment, they laid the groundwork for today’s Utz Brands, Inc. What started as 50 pounds of potato chips per hour in their home has grown into a publicly traded, nationally loved company with numerous snack food brands under its umbrella.
And among other partnerships, they happen to be the “Official Salty Snack” of Major League Baseball. Bill and Salie Utz definitely hit a home run.
“We’ve had a very successful 100 years, and the last 10 years in particular have been very transformative for the company,” said Shane Chambers, EVP Chief Growth Officer at Utz Brands, Inc. “In those 10 years, we’ve grown to a $1.1 billion-plus annual sales business with 15 manufacturing facilities, 3,300 associates and an enviable portfolio of household favorite snack food brands.”
The Utz potato chips that started it all remains one of the company’s most successful products. But as markets and preferences changed over the years, so did Utz’s portfolio. Utz has evolved with the needs and wants of consumers to offer a range of salty snacks including potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, pork rinds, cheese snacks, popcorn, mixes, salsas and dips and plenty more. With its strong foundation of fan-favorites such as Utz® Original and Ripple Potato Chips, Utz® Cheese Balls, and Zapp’s® New Orleans Kettle Style “Voodoo” Potato Chips, Utz has continually grown sales and added brands such as Good Health®, Boulder Canyon® and recently ON THE BORDER® Chips and Dips.
“Utz works hard to balance efforts in its core markets along with new and/or emerging ones. We operate from a plan for each and have a very dedicated and talented team to execute our plans,” Chambers said. Utz leverages its direct store delivery and direct to warehouse distribution capabilities as well as its online, e-commerce capabilities to reach and enter new markets.
Bill Blubaugh, SVP of Marketing, Utz Brands, Inc., also credits their success with a strong portfolio of brands and an accomplished team. “From humble beginnings, we are distinctly proud of our long-standing, family-oriented culture, our people who’ve made so much possible and our portfolio of craft and better-for-you snack foods that excite and delight fans every day,” he said.
Even with its tremendous growth, Utz remains a multi-generational family business. There are third, fourth and fifth generation family members involved in the company today who maintain the strong foundation set by Bill and Salie Utz.
“The Rice and Lissette families, who are third and fourth generation family members and who also have fifth generation members now working at the company, do much to continue to lead and foster the longstanding culture that Bill and Salie Utz created and instilled in the foundation of the company,” Blubaugh said. “Their focus on hard work, making quality products, listening to the wants and needs of the customer and giving back to the community remain as pillars of the Utz culture today and for the future.”
It was that hard work and collaboration of many generations that led Utz to one of its biggest and most recent accomplishments: a listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol UTZ on August 31, 2020.
Plenty has changed over the course of 100 years, but many aspects of the business remain the same. The company strives to treat its associates well, make high-quality snacks that appeal to generations of fans and listen to its customers and retail partners. Strong family and business values play out through Utz’ contributions and support to the communities it serves.
For instance, in 2017, the Rice and Lissette families launched The Rice Family Foundation to support the education, health and well-being of families in the greater Hanover, Pa., area. “During 2020, the Rice and Lissette families went further by contributing $20 million in Utz stock to the Foundation, which will allow the Foundation to increase its annual giving by five times over prior years,” Blubaugh said. “In 2020, the foundation provided grants to 35 nonprofit organizations that are involved with mental and physical health issues, drug addition, domestic violence, food banks and more.”
Even during the tumultuous 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Utz relied on its ability to stay lean and nimble to adapt to unforeseen challenges. The company’s ability to quickly change gears and leverage its online platform paid off, earning Utz “the fastest growing salty snack company in e-commerce” as measured by IRI during 20201.
As the snack food giant looks to its next century, Chambers said they will continue drawing from what they’ve learned and accomplished. “We truly believe that we’ve built the foundation of a company that can continue to expand across the U.S. and delight customers from Miami to San Diego to Seattle!”
Blubaugh feels Bill and Salie would be proud of the leadership of Dylan Lissette, Utz’s CEO, and the current generation that is leading the company. “We believe that Bill and Salie would be incredibly proud of the Utz culture that has endured, true to what they initially sought to create, and that our associates have been central to the success of the company.”
1 Source: IRI; Measured % dollar sales; 52 weeks ending Dec. 27, 2020; E-Commerce Channel with businesses larger than $100,000.00 dollar sales.
Did you catch Utz on PFMA’s Shelf Confidence podcast? Hear more about the “new normal” of snacking!
What are your top three legislative priorities in 2021? One thing I want to do is help the airports and create an incentive for properties around the airports (so that) for every job they create they get some sort of tax break. It doesn’t cost us anything. If they don’t create a job, they get nothing at all. This is a bill that is in the homestretch. We did talk to the Governor’s Office and negotiated what they would support.
I also have a radar bill. It can be difficult to explain, especially in a district like mine where you have small boroughs and people are crossing the street with these cars speeding by. We’ve lost a couple of people hit by vehicles in Stroudsburg Borough and in Mount Pocono. The police cannot set up their Lidar or VASCAR because you need to have visibility, and with parked cars you don’t get it. In the Mount Pocono instance, they set up outside the borough, figuring that if you are speeding there, you were speeding through the borough.
That doesn’t work. I don’t want them speeding through the borough where there are pedestrians. People know that now you have to be careful because you have radar. That’s where we want them to stop and protect residents. The goal for me is to get the bill to the finish line. We’re the only state in the United States that doesn’t have radar for local police. All we want to do is slow people down in the populated areas.
I have a variety of different bills, but those are my two focuses right now.
I’m hoping I can get this to the finish line, too. Our seniors, especially in the growing school districts, are being taxed out of their homes. We’ve tried different plans to help seniors in a certain income bracket stay in their homes… They don’t want to leave their houses. So, raising the state sales tax a half percent, but taxing nothing else, will generate enough money to give seniors who are 65 years and older with an income of $60,000 or less about a $5,000 credit on their school taxes. We have to do something for the seniors because they are really hurting.
What are the important issues facing your district? We’re doing tremendous infrastructure work right now. We’re planning for the widening of I-80, and that needs to happen. The highway was built for about 12,000 vehicles a day, and it gets as many as 78,000 a day now. Especially the Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg areas of my district, the most accidents in the whole 320-mile stretch of I-80 from New Jersey to Ohio are in those boroughs of Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg. Road improvements and safer roads are important to me.
School property tax is a big issue. When you’re in growing school districts, you build buildings. And every time you build a building, the debt services goes on the backs of the people who live in those communities.
School property tax is a big issue. When you’re in growing school districts, you build buildings. And every time you build a building, the debt services goes on the backs of the people who live in those communities. I’ll give you an example. Today, you build a high school and it’s about $125 million. An intermediate school is about $75 million and an elementary is about $45 million. So if you’re growing, that’s your problem. Somebody has to pay for it, it’s going to be born by the taxpayers. The last couple of years, it’s been an escape from New York and New Jersey to the Poconos. We grew by about 3,000 in the last two years, and unfortunately it came after the census was taken, so we don’t get credit for them.
Where do you shop locally for food? Giant is the closest one to me, or ShopRite.
What is your favorite vacation destination? I used to have a house in Bethany Beach. The problem is, I couldn’t take the sometimes five-hour ride on a Friday night. Sunday night coming back was even worse. So I ended up selling it and buying a house in Punta Gorda, Florida, for half the price of the house in Bethany Beach. I can get a plane in either Harrisburg or Allentown. I get there in 2 hours and 5 minutes. I get off the plane, and I walk 17 minutes to the house.
What are the biggest challenges for grocers in your district? Well, you’ve got a tremendous amount of competition. You’ve got Weis, ShopRite, Giant. And with those, competition actually keeps you sharp, especially when things are bad. People will check pricing and service.
To me, the supermarket that shines out is the one that sticks out of the box and will do services that normally you don’t find in a supermarket. I notice they are now doing call in your order, we’ll put it together for you. Those are the types of things, especially with working families and with kids, that work much better. Whomever take that challenge and is good with what you want to see in a store—freshness, quality and service—will do well.
It’s a challenging business, the supermarket business, it really is.
What are your biggest challenges and successes as a legislator? I was at an event when I saw this young man take an artificial limb off, and he’s jumping on the other one. I said, “Why’d you take the limb off?” He said, “Because it’s bothering me.” I said, “Why haven’t you told your parents and returned it?” He said, “We tried, they won’t take it back.”
There were no protections. And that’s a $35,000 leg. They’re not cheap. So I looked into it and saw anyone can measure for that. And yet once you have it, it’s yours. So I put a bill in and moved it to the finish line. You had to be certified, and if it didn’t fit properly the consumer is not responsible, it’s the company.
Basically we’ve gotten the people out of the market who weren’t certified. That bill saved a tremendous amount of people. That young man was hurting himself even more. He was up on one leg, and he was hurting his body. That was, for me, a challenge.
Then, when you buy a house and you sell a piece of real estate, there’s a real estate tax that’s collected at closing: it’s 2 percent of the sales. It’s collected then it’s given to the county. The county disperses those dollars. One percent goes to the state, a half percent goes to the school district and a half percent goes to the local municipality.
Quite often, the state checks those numbers and finds they didn’t collect enough taxes. So, what the state would do is go after that 1 percent. Once the state collects their money, they send a letter to the county that there are more taxes due. But there’s a two-year window to collect your money, and many times the municipality and school district never receive it.
What my bill does is when the state makes a determination that there weren’t enough taxes collected, they collect the full 2 percent. Instead of sending a letter to the county, they send 1 percent back to the county for the county to distribute to the school district and local municipality. … It’s reciprocal. If there is a problem, the state will collect. And that has meant big money in my county, in many counties, especially when you have a tremendous amount of real estate being sold. It saved tax payers dollars.
I moved the property tax bill twice to the finish line—moved it out of the house—but the senate didn’t take it up. This is something I want to see, and I’ll keep working on it, to get school property taxes addressed, especially in the growing areas.
What is your favorite food or meal to cook? Lasagna! I make a mean lasagna. I take sausage meat and chopped meat and mix it together, and it gives it a great taste. I do it just like my mom did. My mom never put anything down (in a recipe), but I always watched her.
One of the most important things with lasagna is Locatelli cheese on every layer.
What do you like to do for fun? You know, I’m blessed! My wife’s a baseball fan, I’m a baseball fan. We go to as many games as we can. This particular year, we were down in Florida and the Mets were down there. We went to the whole series. And the prices were half that of the prices in New York.
The other thing my wife and I enjoy is going to see the grandkids play. My granddaughter will be 9 shortly, and my grandson will be 11. One plays baseball and football, and he is so fast. My granddaughter plays soccer, she’s five years ahead of her time. She is amazing… And they’re the two oldest, we’ll see what the younger ones do. Both very athletic and bright!
You know what? It’s all about family.
Liz Kemmery, director of communications