New owner starts production of Mikesell’s-branded chips

Conn’s Potato Chips has started production of Mikesell’s-branded bags of potato chips from its Zanesville facility, and product may be on Dayton- and Cincinnati-area store shelves in several days, a Conn’s co-owner told the Dayton Daily News.

“We just ran our first bag this morning,” Tom George, Conn’s co-owner with his brother Jon, said Tuesday.

The new license agreement is indefinite, and Conn’s is the sole owner of that license, George said.

As far as the taste of the newly branded chips, it’s Conn’s goal to deliver to customers what they have long appreciated about Mikesell’s, George said.

“They get the same potato we get,” he said. “As far as the recipe, we are using the same recipe they use. It basically comes down to the same oils. That’s really your recipe. We both use the same salt. We’re using all their flavorings.”

“I don’t think anybody is going to notice any thing different — I think they’re going to see maybe even a higher quality than they’re used to,” he added.

Mikesell’s, led by company president Luke Mapp, said earlier this month it intended to sell its brand and intellectual property rights to another snack food manufacturer to continue the brand.

The agreement is effective immediately, Mikesell’s said in a new statement Tuesday, confirming the license agreement.

“Again, we wish to remind the community, consumers and partners that our entire family greatly appreciate their love and support over the past 112-plus years,” Mapp said in the new statement. “Our family will long remember the fan-love, the friendships and the wins along the way the most.”

Conn’s and Mikesell’s seem to have a few things in common.

Both are longtime Buckeye State businesses who trace their origins to family ownership.

Current Conn’s owners Jon George and Tom George, Jr. say they invested in the future of Conn’s with the construction of a 100,000 square foot facility on Kemper Court in Zanesville.

The George brothers took the company’s helm in 2019 from Lois George and another owner, who bought the business in 2001. The Times Recorder reported last year that the company has about 74 employees, and Conn’s on social media in recent days has invited applicants for plant positions.

Workers at the Dayton Mikesell’s plant have said on social media they were given 10-days notice about their jobs. In its Feb. 1 announcement, the Dayton company said it “is beginning to wind down its manufacturing, distribution, and administrative operations to proceed with an orderly liquidation of its assets.”

A day after Conn’s said it acquired the license to Mikesell’s brand, there was no immediate word on when the Mikesell’s Leo Street production facility will permanently close.

Mikesell’s said Tuesday it “continues to explore all options in determining the best course for the disposition of assets, such as its Dayton ... plant, warehouse facilities and manufacturing equipment.”

“It is shut down right now,” George said when asked about the Dayton plant. “They have logistical people with supplies and things like that ... I know that they’re not making chips any more.”

A visit to the Leo Street plant Tuesday showed several cars parked outside. The Mikesell’s Feb. 1 press release announcing business closure plans remained taped to a lobby door.

Questions about the plant’s future were sent to Mapp’s Columbus public relations firm, where a spokeswoman said she had no new information.

At this time, George said his company does not own the Mikesell’s brand; it has a license to use the name. “Eventually our goal is, one day, maybe to own it. Right now, we’re licensing it, and we’re the only ones with rights to it, and we’re the only ones who can control that.”

“We went for it,” George added. “It’s a great brand. Mikesell’s is a fantastic brand, and despite what all the rumors may or may not be, we have zero intention on changing that.”

Mikesell’s said on Facebook recently that it had about 65 Dayton employees.

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