W.Va. company will donate a portion of proceeds from every sale to USO
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – Mary Anne Ketelsen, majority owner and chief executive officer of Mister Bee Potato Chips, unveiled the design of a special new five-ounce potato chip bag saluting Veterans. Additionally, Ketelsen pledged to donate 10 percent of the purchase price of the designated “Salute Our Veterans” bags to United Service Organizations (USO) to assist Veterans and their families.
“Veterans should be honored every day and not just one day in November each year,” said Ketelsen. “We are proud to announce this campaign to show our deep respect and appreciation for the women and men who have served our country.”
Ketelsen said West Virginia’s only potato chip company will produce 250,000 bags with the “Salute Our Veterans” design, which could generate as much as $50,000 for the USO. She added, “We are confident our loyal customers, as well as managers of outlets who sell our products, will enthusiastically support this initiative to show our commitment to caring for our Veterans.”
Ketelsen said she has “admired and supported the USO over the years.” The USO is a global non-profit founded in 1941 that serves Veterans, military personnel and their families in multiple ways. The USO Pathfinder® assists service members and military spouses transitioning from the military as they settle into their new communities, as well as during their military journey as they transition from one installation to the next.
In just the past two years, Ketelsen has invested more than $2 million in upgrading and computerizing the West Virginia Avenue plant and is building a new warehouse at the site to improve its supply chain to vendors and customers. Mister Bee has also been certified as a “woman-owned business” and designated as a HUBZone by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The company has secured kosher certification and recently earned the Eurofins good manufacturing practices recognition. The company’s production of Mister Bee products has steadily increased and new opportunities for growth have transpired through co-packing and private label products.
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About Mister Bee Potato Chips: Mister Bee Potato Chip Company was founded in 1951 by Leo and Sara Klein and had its first offices on Mary Street in Parkersburg, West Virginia. At that time, the chips would be made in the morning and then Mr. Klein would distribute the fresh product in the afternoon. In November 1962, the company was moved to West Virginia Avenue, where the chips are still made today. Leo Klein operated the business until 1979, when he passed away at the age of 73. The company remained with the Klein family until incurring financial difficulties in 2010. Mister Bee now operates as West Virginia Potato Chip Company and was purchased in 2015 by new owners Mary Anne (Welch) Ketelsen, Douglas Ketelsen, James Richard Barton, Gregory Barton and Gregory Reed, along with Mary Maxine Welch participating in financing.