KLN Family Brands 'full steam ahead' with rebuild former Troyer Farms snack foods plant

KLN Family Brands 'full steam ahead' with rebuild former Troyer Farms snack foods plant
Mayo 28, 2014

KLN Family brands is moving ahead quickly with plans for the former Troyer Farms plant in Waterford Township.

Walls are going up, millions of dollars' worth of equipment stands ready to be installed.

And a job fair has been scheduled for Wednesday at Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar in Summit Township.

There are plans by the end of summer to begin cooking potato chips in Waterford for the first time since the spring of 2011.

"It's going to happen," says Charlie Nelson vice president of sales and marketing and an owner of Minnesota-based KLN Family Brands. "I don't think there's a concern as far as getting it done. There is always some red tape to work through."

Nelson, whose company employs about 1,300 people in its hometown of Perham, Minnesota, said he understands there's a natural tendency for Erie County residents to be skeptical.

"There is always some concern about what a new company's plans are," he said. "I understand we are entering a new community and we need to prove ourselves."

Production can't begin, however, until Mercyhurst University completes an archaeological study that will allow construction to extend municipal water and sewer lines about 7,000 feet from the borough of Waterford to the plant on Route 97.

The state of the 160,000-square-foot facility where Troyer Farms made snack foods since the 1960s suggests that KLN is moving quickly. Equipment has been delivered and construction crews are working to transform an old potato chip plant into a new one.

Nelson, who has hired a handful of management employees, said his company is looking to hire between 25 and 40 people by July 1.

"I think that number of jobs jumps to 100 by fall," he said. "We could see a couple hundred people working here within 12 months."

Nelson, who hopes to be frying batches of kettle chips in Waterford by the end of summer, said the plant will likely begin producing popcorn and extruded products, such as cheese puffs, within a few months.

Longer-term plans call for expansion.

"More than anything else I see us building a new facility where we would use the now-existing building as a warehouse," Nelson said. "We want to have a very nice facility where we could show off state-of-the art equipment. That is the long-term plan. The short-term plan is getting people in place."

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