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Dan Dee History

Dan Dee

Pennsylvania has long been recognized as one of the premium potato growing areas in the country. Brothers, Cliff and Cletus Troyer began growing several varieties of high quality chipping potatoes in the early 1950's. These potatoes were sold to regional snack food companies in the eastern and mid-western areas of the country. As a result, the brothers earned a reputation for being growers of the finest potatoes in the region. In conjunction with Penn State University, the brothers developed new potato varieties using the most current technology available along with large doses of hard work and most importantly …. PRIDE.

In 1967, Cliff and Cletus Troyer created a family owned and operated Pennsylvania Corporation – Troyer Potato Products, Inc. The corporate offices and production facilities for potato Chips, tortillas, popcorn and extruded products are in Waterford PA, 10 miles south of Erie PA. The company owns and operates a state of the art pretzel manufacturing facility approximately 20 miles south of Pittsburgh in Canonsburg PA.

In the first ten years, the company quickly grew from a one route truck operation into a major regional snack producer and distributor servicing New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. During this time, production capacity in potato chips alone grew an industry leading tenfold. In addition, capital improvements were made in the form of production machinery for extruded products, popcorn, pretzels and tortilla chips. Moving forward to today, the company continues to re-invest in new technology production equipment to ensure efficient and high quality manufacturing practices.

1984 – Troyer Farms acquired the Dan Dee Pretzel & Potato Chip Company. This acquisition doubled the sales of the Company. Over the next ten years, Troyer Farms purchased the OK Potato Chip Company in Akron Ohio and the Kitchen Cook'd Company in Massillon OH.

DAN DEE PRETZEL & POTATO CHIP CO., a family-run snack food business for over 70 years that was a major brand throughout Ohio, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and New York, began in 1913 when childhood friends Harry Albert Orr and Charles V. Pike began manufacturing and distributing pretzels by hand in Braddock, Pennsylvania. The two young men pooled their capital of $214 to finance the operation, making their product by hand and carrying cans of pretzels to their retail outlets. Originally called the West Penn Pretzel Co., denoting their base of operations in the Pittsburgh area, they changed the name to the Cleveland Pretzel Co. after moving the business to Cleveland in 1916. They were located on Hough Ave. not far from LEAGUE PARK, but the company began to make potato chips by 1926, and even for a time egg noodles, at a separate facility on Superior Avenue. After several name changes (Sunshine, Picnic), Pike and Orr settled on the name Dan Dee Pretzel and Potato Chip Co. in 1928, then moved the entire operation to 2900 E. 65th Street. In the late teens they acquired a traveling oven, dough mixers and a rolling machine. In the 1940s, they still employed young women to hand-twist the pretzels, the fastest twisting and traying 30 per minute. In 1945 they merged with Berg's Bretzels of Leetonia, Ohio, the first of many mergers and acquisitions that expanded Dan Dee's market despite the Depression and the shortages of WORLD WAR II. Around 1950, Orr and Pike organized the Empire Pretzel & Potato Chip Co. in Buffalo, New York, to supply western New York with their snack foods. A potato shortage in 1952 led Pike and a buyer, along with their wives, on a potato-buying trip to North Carolina. On the return they were involved in a head-on collision, killing both Mr. and Mrs. Pike and the buyer's wife. Orr continued to run the company, remaining an officer until his death, while also training the younger generation of Pikes and Orrs to run the business. They continued to expand the business, buying a Columbus plant in 1965 (later closed), then in 1981 the Blue Star Potato Chip Co. plant in Cannonsburg, PA. By the early 1980s, the company operated 130 sales routes and posted revenues of $18,000,000, but they had also accumulated large debt, unmanageable overhead, and suffered market erosion because of formidable competition from national firms. In late 1983, Dan Dee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, continuing to operate their plants in Cleveland, Buffalo, and Cannonsburg during the court-supervised re-organization. Troyer Farms of Waterford, Pennsylvania, a family-run business well-situated to compete with national firms, acquired the company on May 24, 1984, doubling their distribution network. Troyer closed the Cleveland manufacturing facility, but maintained the Dan Dee name, product line and Eastside warehouse, and managed to turn the business around by the end of 1984. In 1953, a Dan Dee delivery truck, made by the WHITE MOTOR CORP. in 1920, was restored in honor of the company's founders. The truck was used extensively for promotional trips before being donated to the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY in 1994.

March 2001 – Troyer Potato Products purchased the Seyfert Potato Chip Company in Fort Wayne Indiana. Seyfert distributed products in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. This acquisition added 50% more sales volume. With the Dan Dee and Seyfert additions, Troyer owned the two oldest and most respected brands in Ohio and Indiana. Currently, the sales volume is split evenly between the three brands (Troyer Farms, Dan Dee and Seyfert).

The Troyer family continues to grow high quality potatoes and is, in fact, the only major regional snack food company to do so. Troyer grows 50% of the potatoes that it chips. Its' association with Penn State University continues to develop new potato varieties that enhance the quality of its potato chips. As a grower, Troyer Potato Products farms over 2000 acres of potatoes, soybeans, corn and small grains.

The current sales force of Troyer Potato Products includes more than 250 route sales trucks that provide daily service to a seven state region. Troyer Farms was one of the first snack food companies to invest in computer technology for its route sales force. Each route is supported with Norand computerized route accounting systems which include DEX capabilities. Each route/ warehouse communicates daily with the host computer for file updates and data exchange. These routes operate out of approximately 50 warehouses. The warehouses are supplied by a fleet of over 100 trailers and 30 tractors.

The customer list for the Troyer Farms, Dan Dee and Seyfert brands includes but is not limited to: Marc's, Dave's, Heinens, Tops Markets, Giant Eagle, Acme, Wal*Mart, Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, Discount Drug, Medic Drugs, Wegmans, Shop'n Save, Kroger, Marsh, Eckerd Drugs, Sparkle, Quality Markets, Wilson Farms

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