Depress ctrl and + keys together to increase zoom/font size; depress ctrl and – keys together to reduce
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Ask Mark McCutcheon what his favorite snack food is, and the answer is no surprise.
“Plain potato chips, of course,” said the man whose business cards read: Chief Potato Peeler.
But the best seller for McCutcheon’s company, Golden Flake Snack Foods, may surprise some people.
It’s Sweet Heat, the sweet and spicy barbecue chips that are shipped to customers around the country who live outside of the company’s footprint in the Southeast.
“Sweet Heat has such an almost cult following that it has overtaken plain potato chips in our business,” he said. “That’s an anomaly in the industry.”
McCutcheon is chairman and chief executive of Birmingham-based Golden Enterprises Inc., Golden Flake’s parent.
The company, which started in the basement of a grocery store 90 years ago, today has about 1,000 employees and produces more than 200 different sizes and varieties of snacks.
Along with plain potato chips and Sweet Heat, there are cheese puffs, cheese curls, tortilla chips, snack crackers and a host of other flavored chips made at Golden Flake’s sprawling factory complex in southwest Birmingham.
See videos of potato chips, cheese puffs and pork skins being made.Fried pork skins are popular, too, with demand driven by the popularity of low-carb diets. Sales of pork skins and cracklins, a similar product, grew 13 percent last year, and the company is looking to add another shift on that line.
Golden Flake’s snack-making operations are an automated process monitored by employees. The production lines turn potatoes into chips, cornmeal into cheese puffs, dehydrated pork pellets into fried pork skins, and so on, with some high-tech touches to prevent mishaps.At the end of the chip line, for example, a photocell ID system blows off bad ones by spotting those that sport green spots, undercooked areas or too much potato skin. Later on, after they’re bagged and boxed into cases, an X-ray machine examines the packages for any foreign objects.
For the fiscal year that ended May 31, Golden Flake reported $137 million in net sales, up 1 percent from the previous year. But net income fell — to $1.1 million from $2.2 million a year earlier — amid higher selling, general and administrative expenses, due to the implementation of a new enterprise resource planning system.
For the quarter ended Aug. 30, the company’s sales and earnings increased. It earned $771,528, or 7 cents per share, on $35.1 million in revenue.
The new ERP technology is expected to improve efficiency across Golden Flake’s operations; part of it includes a function that will help track down products more easily in case there is a problem.
“If you buy a bag of chips in Publix, we can tell you where the potatoes were grown, what shift time the chips were made, where the other ingredients came from and where the packaging came from,” McCutcheon said.
Alabama-made is a regular al.com feature about the state’s homegrown products and businesses.
After my stepmother passes, dang do I hate talking about something like that, my father’s living children, who are my sister Elizabeth and me, and the children of his deceased children and deceased adopted daughter, step into his widow’s shoes in equal shares with respect to receipt of income from a family trust my father set up many years ago, to save estate taxes. In that trust he put his Golden Flake stock, maybe by then it was called Golden Enterprises. I think stockholder voting rights on the stock, via the family trust, also pass to the survivors.However, in my deceased brother Major’s case, I believe he had an arrangement with my father that he (Major) determined in his own estate plan who received what from the family trust, and my understanding is his children by his second wife will step into his shoes, and his children by his first wife will not. I anticipate that will be litigated, based on conversations with his first wife before she passed over some time after Major died. Maybe that is the commotion in my dream.
Maybe that and I both are the commotion.
And maybe someone is trying to buy the company. Herman Faulk recently told me that he had heard a rumor. I think I recall, if the company is sold, that might collapse the family trust, but I might not recollect that correctly.
Actually, I did not go to the website, so I don’t know what was happening with the dividends. I had heard that they were basically raping the company with profitless payments of dividends that had affected the employees. I do know that she had no respect for loyalty from employees. One of the most loyal people I ever hired got thrown out of there so she could put some woman over finance and then two male CPAs got hired for that area when there was no need for any of the three of them. Something that really got me shaking my head was the profit number for last year for the entire company was less than the investment portfolio I created when I was there. We also had zero debt at that time compared to now. I can not swear to it, but my guess is that Pate was a cause of all the wasted money and foolish spending for unneeded equipment. He tricked your Dad with that kind of crap because he knew your Dad loved tech things and Pate constantly tricked him into spending huge amounts for equipment we did not need. Pate was one of my main reasons for leaving. I spent months tracking sales in Florida so we could properly size the needed equipment in Ocala. Pate put in equipment 3 or 4 sizes larger than needed so he could go to the Snack Food conventions and brag about the production capacity. Unfortunately, the equipment purchased created personnel problems, quality issues, and wasted land usage. I found the land in Ocala and got an incredible deal on it. The property was perfect for a plant and for GF to build a strip shopping center for future profitability. The land was perfect for that and very close to the interstate on one of the main roads into Ocala. Pate ruined that by wasting the entire site on a plant and a railroad track. When I saw what equipment he was buying and his plan to use all that land, I knew I had to complete a number of things I was working on and get out of there.