BERLIN, Pa. (AP) — Every day about 10,000 cases of snacks leave the Snyder of Berlin plant and travel around the country.
This year the Berlin Borough business will celebrate its 65th anniversary. Although ownership may have changed a few times since 1947, the company has continued to operate and grow.
Matthew Petronio, Snyder's general manager, said the company is looking forward to an additional 65 years by adding new products in the future that reach more customers. But being in the food industry for 65 years is quite an accomplishment, Petronio said.
"You can't buy longevity in the food business," he said. "You have to earn it. We do it one consumer at a time and one potato chip at a time."
While the chip line has expanded in flavors and products, one thing has remained the same: The product is produced locally.
"Our people produce with a lot of pride," he said.
The plant has more than 100 employees who bring invaluable knowledge to the facility, Petronio said. "We are very fortunate. We have several second- and third-generation family members."
Snyder chips are sent all over the world through Internet sales. The company does a lot of online sales in Florida and Arizona, typically involving people who lived in the area and then moved away. The core distribution area is western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and parts of Virginia.
The company has produced special packaging to celebrate the milestone.
"It's our way of saying thanks to our loyal fans," Petronio said.
Michele James, marketing manager, said for the 65th anniversary the company is holding a contest called SnackShots. Customers can submit photographs of people enjoying Snyder of Berlin chips. Each month a winner will be announced on the company's website. The grand prize winner will receive $1,000 in cash, a new camera and a year's supply of snacks. Three runners-up will receive $500 in cash and a year's supply of chips.
Details about the contest are on the special 65th anniversary bags along with a QR code that directs smartphone users to the website.
Snyder officials say the company isn't just a chip-maker. They also try to help the community. James explained that the company sponsors events and fundraisers for the Pennsylvania Maple Festival, the multiple sclerosis walk in Pittsburgh and a rib cook-off in Cleveland. James said they are preparing for the Berlin Block Party parade this evening, where Boy Scouts will be handing out small bags of chips.
"If someone leaves the parade hungry, it is their own fault," James said.
Petronio said many employees are involved with the organizations the company supports.
"We take our role in the community very seriously," he said. "We can't have a strong business if we don't have a strong community. We are going to do more of that down the road."
Snyder is owned by Pinnacle Foods Group, which purchased Birds Eye Food in 2009. Pinnacle's other brands include Vlasic pickles, Mrs. Buttersworth's and Duncan Hines.
Petronio said Pinnacle is supportive of the business, investing in equipment, safety, quality control and training. An example of that investment is a sorting machine purchased about five years ago that can quickly separate bad chips from good chips. The machine sorts 3,500 chips an hour and the belt moves 120 feet per minute.
Petronio said he would like to thank loyal Snyder of Berlin customers for their continued support.
"Without the customers we are just an empty building," he said.