UPDATE: 10/17/11 5:10 PM
Mister Bee is back in production and that means more of West Virginia's own potato chips.
A temporary freeze in the company's bank account, due to a now closed court case, caused the potato chip company to stop production for two weeks.
Mister Bee's president, Doug Klein, says they were unable to buy supplies during the stop in production and lost around $200,000 as a result.
Production started back up on Sunday, after the account was restored.
Klein says the company will be running overtime to catch up and suppliers should have their full amount of product within a few weeks.
He also thanks all of the loyal Mister Bee customers for sticking by them during this time.
UPDATE: 10/16/2011 5:09 PM
Here is a letter provided to WTAP by Doug Klein, President of Mister Bee Potato Chip Company of Parkersburg. The letter was sent to his employees earlier this month. It has been edited for clarity, and some sections (dealing with confidential business dealings) have been omitted at Klein’s request. Those sections are indicated with ellipses ( …).
Since the letter was written, Klein says he has worked out a payment plan with his raw potato provider, and will not need the help of outside investors after all.
Oct 2, 2011
To all Employees of Mister Bee Potato Chip Company,
I am sure all of you have been wondering what has been going on the last several weeks with the inconstancy of our production and product flow. (H)ere (is) the truth of the matter. Back in August 2010 Mister Bee lost its distributing rights to Utz Potato Chips and then 3 months later we lost Snyders of Hanover distribution. Neither of these were the single fault of anybody however it caused a financial strain on the business. Mister Bee lost over $2 million in sales revenue. This (had a) crippling effect (on) Mister Bee.
I did everything in my power to keep the business running (normally) without making any drastic cuts. However, I realized that something was going to have to change in order for us to survive. I went out and tried to find funding for the business. I was able to find a group of investors that were interested in the business and willing to allow me to still have control. Unfortunately, we (were) falling further behind to some of our suppliers. (UPDATE: Klein now says the investors will not be involved.)
Finally our main source of potatoes cut us off because we were behind to them. I explained to them that if they just give us a little time we would make everything correct. They didn’t buy it and I was forced to reveal we had potential investors coming in to bail the (company’s) problems out.
Instead of being patient, they filed a PACA suit which basically gives them priority to freeze our assets till they are paid. This happened last Wednesday 9/26/11. I must go to Federal court and ask for this injunction to be lifted before we can begin production. My investors have agreed to help bail us out but I will not have their money until after Wednesday. Unfortunately I have exhausted all my money in trying to keep the business going and I am not (allowed) to use any company money prior to this injunction being lifted.
I guarantee you this (is a) minor setback … and we will begin full steam ahead later this week. I apologize for any (inconvenience) this has caused but I was hoping to avoid all this, but I ran out of time.
I would be happy to talk with anyone who has any questions about the whole situation.
Douglas S. Klein
A local potato chip-maker is facing some problems but says it has no intention of closing.
Mister Bee Potato Chip Company, West Virginia’s last remaining company of its type, says it is facing some distribution issues but is working hard to overcome them.
Doug Klein, president of Mister Bee, acknowledged to WTAP that he had recently sent a letter to some of his retailers about the firm’s problems.
But since he is still battling a lawsuit filed last November by Utz Quality Foods Inc., he could not comment further.
Klein said in a statement: “We are working as fast as we can to put this matter behind us so we can continue manufacturing and selling our products to all our retailers. We are not planning to close any time soon.”