Quitting your full-time job to perfect the potato chip may sound like a bad business plan, but it worked for Bill Utz in 1921, when he founded Pennsylvania's Utz Quality Foods. A leader in the snack foods market, Utz each week produces more than 1 million pounds of potato chips and 850,000 pounds of pretzels. It also makes cheese curls, onion rings, popcorn, and pork rinds, as well as sunflower, tortilla, and corn chips. Thanks to its 850-plus company-owned delivery routes, Utz's snack items are sold across the US by national chains, including BJ's Wholesale, Costco, and Wal-Mart. The company added the Zapp's, Dirty, and California chip brands in 2011. Utz is run by third-generation family members.
From its headquarters in Hanover, Pennsylvania, Utz caters to customers nationwide. The company distributes its Utz-brand snack foods throughout the East Coast, specifically across Boston and Connecticut. It also serves the South, Northeast, and Midwest with its Zapp's brand and the East and West coasts with its Dirty and California natural chips.
As part of its business, Utz maintains a handful of US manufacturing facilities to produce its potato chips, baked chips, tortilla chips, flavored pretzels, rice crisps, cheese curls, popcorn, and pork rinds.
Its distribution centers are located in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington, DC.
While privately owned, Utz has reported that its 2012 revenue reached $540 million, a 31% rise since 2010.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2016 the company agreed to buy snack food maker Golden Enterprises for $135 million, or $12 a share. The Alabama-based Golden Enterprises is known for its Golden Flakes brand of chips. The acquisition, the largest in Utz's history, is expected to close by the end of the year.
To streamline its operations after multiple acquisitions in recent years, Utz has focused on upgrading its communications infrastructure at its factories, warehouses, and offices nationwide. To this end, it enlisted the help of Comcast Corporation and Morefield Communications to upgrade its Internet connections to Comcast's larger-capacity Ethernet solutions using fiber optics.
Sales and Marketing
Utz is the leading regional chip brand in the Boston and Connecticut markets. It also ranks highly among other regions with its Zapp's, Dirty, California, and Bachman brands. The company's products are typically sold through large national chains and warehouse stores the likes of Wal-Mart, Costco, and BJ's Wholesale.
The snack foods maker regularly pumps out new products. Utz rolled out a new range of pretzels under the Utz Specials name that includes flavor varieties unsalted sourdough, extra dark, sourdough, and multigrain. The company has also extended other lines, such as its dip cups with a new Salsa version.
Looking for some leverage among the growing snack foods market, Utz agreed in late 2009 to be taken over by Snyder's of Hanover. However, the deal was called off less than two weeks after the announcement was made, with both companies stating that since the takeover had not been cleared by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), they decided to cancel the deal because getting FTC approval would likely have been a protracted approval process. Both companies also said they preferred to get on with their businesses and not partake in time-consuming negotiations with the government, which, they added, would be detrimental to their companies. By late 2010, however, Snyder's of Hanover had merged with Lance to create Snyder's-Lance and a then $1.6 billion company.