PARKERSBURG - As the new president of Mister Bee Potato Chip Co., Christie Mallett plans to increase the company's presence and loyal customers.
"We have a great product. We want to share the quality products with others," Mallett said this week from Mister Bee headquarters on West Virginia Avenue.
This news comes after Mister Bee announced, through Mallett as company spokeswoman, on April 9 that the company would resume operations during the mid-second quarter after undergoing an organizational restructuring. Mister Bee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last November.
Mallett, 35, of Vienna replaces Doug Klein as company president. He was the third generation of the Klein family to run Mister Bee since its founding in 1951 by Leo and Sara Klein.
The resumption of potato chip production became possible after a private investor provided money for operations. Mallett declined to release the investor's name and Doug Klein referred all questions to Mallett.
Mallett said she has been conducting an extensive reorganization and re-evaluation of Mister Bee in anticipation of restarting production on April 30. She hopes to begin product deliveries to stores in early May.
More than 30 former Mister Bee employees will be brought back on the payroll, Mallett said.
"Some quit their jobs and decided to come back to Mister Bee," she said.
Angela Stanforth has been hired as director of finance, and Carla Reeves is Mallett's executive administrative assistant.
The company's sales representatives, formerly called "drivers," are visiting former customers, and potential new ones, in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southeast Ohio, where Mister Bee has done business for many years, Mallett said. She envisions the company expanding its sales outside the region.
Mister Bee is the only potato chip manufacturer in West Virginia. The company said its manufacturing operations will remain in Parkersburg.
Mallett intends to spend time "out in the field," alongside the sales representatives, trying to place Mister Bee products in stores and building the company.
She has many business contacts in the Tri-State region, Mallett said, having served as director of marketing and public relations for Panera Bread/Covelli Enterprises for two years in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.
Mallett owns CDM Communications, a marketing and public relations company.
Mallett said she plans to focus on social media and add a revamped website to help increase Mister Bee sales.
She is encouraged by the number of people calling the Mister Bee office wanting to know when the chips will begin rolling off the production line again.