Featured News Archives for 2015-07

After nearly three decades of watching others turn his corn into tortillas and tortilla chips, Hardin County farmer Denny Hensel is doing it himself, in Ada.

After nearly three decades of watching others turn his corn into tortillas and tortilla chips, Hardin County farmer Denny Hensel is doing it himself, in Ada.

His Harvest Pride Tortilla Chips were featured in the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance’s annual Member Appreciation Day luncheon on Friday, at the chamber’s headquarters in Kenton. Chamber officials used the occasion to announce a new Farm-to-Table marketing initiative that they hope will spawn similar agribusiness efforts here.

“Harvest Pride is our marketing case study,” said HCCBA president and CEO Jon Cross. The chips — crisp and crunchy, in Ranch, Guacamole and Nacho Cheese flavors — were 28 years in the making. Hensel, who has farmed all his life and currently farms 900 acres, said he first thought of going into the chip business when he sold his first bushel of corn to snack food giant Seyfert's Foods in 1987.

“Joe Seyfert took me through the plant, showed me the process,” he said.  Through that, and other encounters with manufacturers, Hensel said he was “listening, looking, reading,” and brain storming on how he could do it, too. He said he has spent “millions and millions of dollars” building a manufacturing plant on East Montford, in Ada’s industrial park. He’s relied on his daughters, their husbands and his grandchildren for support. “There are three generations working out there,” he said of his tortilla plant.

The plant has two production lines, one fresh corn tortillas, the other for the fried tortilla chips that will be bagged and sold in stores. He also has the ability to make un-fried tortilla chips for Mexican restaurants, to fry and serve hot on demand for their customers.

The next step is to get his tortilla chips into the mouths of local eaters through area grocery stories, restaurants, even schools. That’s where the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance hopes to help though its new Farm-to-Table initiative.

“We’re trying to encourage farmers and growers to be entrepreneurs, to start a business like Denny Hensel did,” said CEO Cross.  “It’s no different than trying to recruit light and heavy manufacturing.  It’s local food for local consumers."

To build awareness and buzz around local ag products, the Chamber had Hardin County resident and Ohio Northern University grad Wesley Goldsmith design a logo. The image is a fusion of a barn and silo with a plate and fork, under which is the phrase, “Eat Fresh. Eat Local. Hardin County.” It will be featured at the upcoming Hardin County Fair. Cross said he hopes to see it at area restaurants and on locally-produced products like Harvest Pride. “There are a lot of people who want to have access to fresh food, and they really support the ‘buy local’ concept,” said Cross.

Cross and Hensel said they’ve reached out to local grocery store chains, including Community Market. Hensel said local Mexican restaurants have shown interest.  He said he expects to be in full production by the fall.

“I farm for a living, I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire,” he said.  “This has taken longer to get going than I had appreciated."


Denny Hensel, owner of Hardin County’s newest agribusiness, Harvest Pride Tortilla and Chips of Ada, was among the speakers Friday afternoon at the unveiling of the farm-to-table logo and marketing campaign at the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance.

The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance unveiled a new farm-to-table logo and marketing campaign to promote new agribusiness opportunities in Hardin County, as local farmers and growers are producing locally grown food for consumers.

“Eat Fresh, Eat Local Hardin County” is the motto of the campaign.

The announcement was linked with the Alliance Membership Appreciation Day Luncheon, where members were treated to a barbecue lunch prepared by Chef David Wagner of the Plaza Inn Family Restaurant. The luncheon was a farm-to-table event in itself, as Hardin County’s newest agribusiness, Harvest Pride Tortilla and Chips of Ada, provided samples of their new chips as part of the menu. Alliance members also had the chance to purchase bags of chips as a special preview sale.

“We are excited to develop a marketing initiative to spotlight the agribusiness efforts and opportunities of our local farmers and growers who are growing fresh produce for consumers,” said Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Alliance.

“A key element to farm-to-table is being able to get the locally grown produce into our local restaurants, schools, grocery stores, etc.,” said Mark Badertscher, agriculture educator with Hardin County’s OSU Extension. “It’s great to have the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance work with our agricultural industry in building some collaboration between our farmers and growers and the potential buyers of these products.”

Wesley Goldsmith, a Hardin County resident and Ohio Northern University graduate, designed the new farm-to-table logo. He has designed many new logos for the Alliance, including the new county motto, Hardin County Ambassadors, Buy Local First Hardin County and the Kenton Historic Courthouse District logos. The farm-to-table logo also will be featured at the upcoming Hardin County Fair.

 


The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance presented it's first 2015 mid year report.

The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance presented it's first 2015 mid year report.

Alliance President and CEO Jon Cross said the report was presented by conference call for Alliance members and investors, "Where we had a great opportunity to talk about a lot of positive economic development activity in northwest Ohio and also what's happening in Hardin County with regards to development from industrial development to restaurant to retail. There's a lot of exciting things happening, and we're working to try to get some of those to come to fruition."


He said positive positive things happening within the Alliance were discussed, "We're seeing a tremendous growth of membership, welcoming over 50 new members this year. We're providing a lot of great member services, programs and events, and we're looking at trying to get more people engaged in the community through networking, lunch and learn programs, talking about SBA loans, business after hours, getting our community business leaders to have a chance to connect, so a lot of good things taking place."

He also said industrial growth in Hardin County was also talked about, "International Paper's expansion of the 125 new jobs was one of the top six major companies making an announcement in the northwest Ohio market. The top 5 had anywhere from 150 to 200 new jobs, and this 125 job creation for Hardin County is a major capital investment by the company, but also a major economic boost."

And he adds that's not all of the positive things happening in industry in Hardin County, "Sekisui Plastics USA is hiring for new employees, and that will be a potential of up to 50 new jobs for this market, so there's a lot of great employment activity taking place with all of our businesses, and we're excited the economic development activity in Hardin County."