Mister Bee plant to be more productive, energy efficient

Gets $250,000 for energy improvements
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - While you might not notice it when munching on their product, the Mister Bee potato chip plant is going through some major changes.

It’s all a result of Mary Anne Ketelsen acquiring the company five years ago.

“In 2018, I decided that, if we were going to move forward, I would need to come in and run the day-to-day operations,” said Ketelsen, who became majority owner in 2015. “(I) worked out in the plant to see what we needed, and that’s when I decided we needed to purchase a lot of equipment.”

Including the addition of a $2.9 million fryer, replacing one that’s 40 years old.

And Mister Bee now has $250,000, announced Tuesday, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for energy efficiency improvements, including development of renewable energy systems.

“Project funds will be used to make energy efficiency improvements with the purchase and installation of lighting, water recycling equipment, and potato washing equipment,” the USDA said in a statement. “This project will realize $31,699 per year in savings and will replace 43,527 kWh (15%) per year, which is enough electricity to power a portion of two homes”.

That’s all on the inside, but there’s been a noticeable change on the outside.

“An 11,000 square foot warehouse,” Ketelsen said, “which will be able to put our additional products, Snyder, Utz, Dot’s Pretzels, Mission, and Mr. Bee Potato Chips, will all go to the new warenouse, to expand our packing of chips in this main warehouse.”

The changes will increase the plant’s production capacity, hopefully keeping the company-and West Virginia’s only snack food manufacturer-in the chips.

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