Ballreich's Potato Chips received this year's Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year award Friday from the U.S. Small Business Administration's Cleveland district office.
The 90-year-old Tiffin company hosted Gilbert Goldberg, district director, for a plant tour - complete with freshly made, warm chips off the production line.
Goldberg then presented the award to three generations of the family in front of a group of employees. In addition to owners Brian and Linda Reis, Brian's mother, Phyllis (Ballreich) Reis attended, as well as the fourth generation, the Reis' daughter, marketing director Haley Thomas, and her husband, quality control manager Phil Thomas.
PHOTO BY SEAN HERRON
Gilbert Goldberg, director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Cleveland district office, presents the Jeffery Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year Award to Ballreich’s Potato Chips. Pictured from left are Goldberg, Brian Reis, Linda Reis, Haley Thomas, Phil Thomas and Phyllis Reis.
"What's so unique about this company is it's fourth generation," Goldberg said. "It's really an honor for the Small Business Administration to be here to recognize Ballreich's because what's driving the United States economy is small businesses just like this.
"This year, I feel that your recognition is especially significant given the difficult economic times that we have been facing since the recession began approximately two years ago," Goldberg said. "It is through your efforts and others like you that this nation will be lead out of the recession."
Every year since President Dwight Eisenhower's administration, Goldberg said, the president has designated a week in May as Small Business Week to honor the contributions entrepreneurs have made to this country's economic growth and prosperity.
He said Ballreich's was selected from a pool of nominees for demonstrating an outstanding performance in the areas of sales growth, profitability, creation of employment opportunities, longevity and efforts to strengthen family-owned businesses in their community.
Ballreich's, 186 Ohio Ave., has been virtually in the same location since the first potato chips were made in the family's dirt-floor garage starting in 1920 by Fred and Carl Ballreich.
"They were made in a copper kettle," said Phyllis (Ballreich) Reis, daughter of Carl.
She said they originally were sold on a bicycle route through town.
"People in Tiffin liked them," she said.
So the brothers started a small business and continued making potato chips.
"Every time they had money, they expanded," she said. "The Ballreich family wanted to be in Tiffin. They worked hard to make it something."
That work ethic and expansion continues today.
Brian and Linda Reis bought the company from 17 family owners four years ago.
"I give the family a tremendous amount of credit," Brian said. "They did things right."
He said Ballreich's has grown significantly in the last two years and products are distributed now in almost all areas of Ohio, as well as Michigan, Indiana and Chicago.
Brian said he is thrilled to be recognized by the federal government for their efforts.
But he said it's not only the family that was awarded, but the employees.
"Our workers are the best," he said. "It's our great employees that have made us what we are.
"I believe in being honest," he added. "We want to be a much bigger company than we are today."