Old Mill Kettle Corn may not ring a bell like Little Debbie Snacks, but whether or not you've heard of or seen the Chickamauga, Ga.-produced sweet treat at Earth Fare, chances are the name will be recognized soon.
At least that's what co-founder Mike Proctor is hoping comes from his new distribution partnership with McKee Food Corporation. The popcorn company recently entered into a partnership with Heartland Brands, a subsidiary of McKee, that will allow the company to exclusively distribute the flavored popcorn throughout the Southeast and nationwide.
"With this partnership we will realize our vision to make this brand a household name," said Proctor, who co-founded the company with Monty Daggett. "We hope two to three years from now our brand will be as recognizable as Heartland Cereal or Little Debbie Snacks."
Old Mill recently completed an expansion and is planning another expansion that will increase the business's production capacity to 6.5 million units a year. Over the last year, the company has hired 10 people and is looking to hire an additional 10-15 people in the coming months, said Proctor.
After starting the business in his father's driveway in 2009, the co-founder said he is amazed to see how much the company has grown in such a short amount of time.
Abby Shipley, community relations coordinator for Earth Fare, said she attributes a lot of the company's success to the delicious product that doesn't contain any trans fat and is also gluten free, dairy free and made without any genetically modified organisms. She said she regularly passes out kettle corn to students at local schools as an example of healthy snacks.
Proctor said having his product sold by Earth Fare was one of the defining moments for the company that helped open up other markets and eventually led to the partnership with McKee.
"We knew we had something great when they came to us," said Proctor in regards to Earth Fare. "It's the perfect snack that any mom can pack knowing that her child can share it with anyone because it's pretty much a hypoallergenic product."
This fall, Old Mill Kettle Corn will get new packaging as the company partners with football teams across the region. The University of Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Clemson and Florida State will all get their own Old Mill Kettle Corn packaging in time for tailgating.
"We're hoping that fans who already like our product will really like it when it's in an art bag supporting their favorite team," said Proctor.
For more information about Old Mill Kettle Corn, visit www.oldmillkettlecorn.com.