Golden Flake Snack Foods (NASDAQ:GLDC) is a Birmingham-based manufacturer of potato chips, crackers, nuts and other snack foods with its headquarters and main production facility located at 1 Golden Flake Drive in North Titusville; northwest of the UAB campus and beside I-65, on the former site of the Alice Furnace. Its 200 sizes and varieties of products are sold across a 12-state area. The company's Chairman, President and CEO is Mark McCutcheon. For the fiscal year ending in May 2013, the company, which has over 1,000 employees, reported net sales of $137 million.
In 2016 Golden Enterprises was acquired by the privately-owned Utz Quality Foods of Hanover, Pennsylvania for $141 million, or $12 per share plus $7 million in retired debt. Utz CEO Dylan Lissette indicated that the brand would continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary, similar to the way it operates the Zapp's brand from Louisiana which it acquired in 2011.
Golden Flake began in 1923 as Magic City Foods in the basement of the original Hill's grocery store in downtown Birmingham. The business, founded by Mose Lischkoff and Frank Mosher, sold roasted peanuts, peanut butter cracker sandwiches and home-made horseradish. Sales took off, especially for their "Golden Flake" potato chips, and the owners expanded to keep pace with demand.
One early employee was Helen Friedman, who served as a spokesmodel, dubbed the "Golden Flake Girl". She and her mother were impressed by the business and bought out Lischkoff's share. In 1928 she became Mosher's wife. They had a rocky marriage and, when the divorce proceedings concluded, Friedman found herself the owner of Magic City Foods.
Under Friedman's ownership, which spanned the Great Depression, the company continued to grow, with sales across North Alabama reaching $750,000 per year shortly after World War II. She sold the company in 1946 to Leo E. Bashinsky and his brother-in-law Cyrus Case.
In 1956, Leo's son Sloan Bashinsky Sr bought Magic City Foods from his father and uncle. He changed the name to "Golden Flake" a year later and, in 1958 moved the production facility to its current 5-acre site. In 1963 he oversaw the acquisition of Don's Foods, a Nashville, Tennessee-based snack producer and distributor. The two companies combined their operations in 1966. Bashinsky's friendship with Alabama Crimson Tide football head coach Bear Bryant secured Golden Flake a favored spot right beside Coca-Cola on Bryant's weekly television program.
Bashinsky took the company public in 1968 and used the capital to diversify the business. He purchased Steel City Bolt & Screw, Nall & Associates, and smaller real-estate and insurance companies. At the same time, sales of Golden Flake products continued to grow, from $3 million in annual sales in the late 1950s to $50 million in the late 1970s.
In 1977, Bashinsky created Golden Enterprises, Inc., a holding company for the fully-diversified business. Golden Flake Snack Foods, Inc. became a wholly-owned subsidiary. The real-estate and insurance businesses were sold off later that year.
In the 1980s, Golden Flake expanded into new territory across the South and completed construction of a second production facility in Ocala, Florida in 1984. Sales increased to the $100 million mark as the company kept close tabs on the research and marketing done by the global giant Frito-Lay. The move into Florida proved costly as Golden Flake found itself in the middle of a war being fought by Frito-Lay and Anheuser-Busch's Eagle Snacks brand. Earnings drooped into the early 1990s as Bashinsky retired and handed the company to veteran employee John Stein, who served as Chairman until retiring in 2010.
Stein reconcentrated the company's core business, divesting Golden Enterprises of Steel City Bolt & Screw and Nall & Associates in 1995. That core was solid, and while sales grew only slowly, low expenses kept earnings relatively sound. Known for its community involvement, Golden Flake currently sponsors NASCAR races at Talladega Superspeedway, SEC athletics, Auntie Litter events, and the Rick & Bubba Show. In 2009 Golden Flake sponsored "Bear Country", a stage play based on Coach Bryant's career.
In 2009, Golden Flake withstood the snack food peanut butter recall because its snacks were not made from the recalled products. It is currently the South's leading seller of fried pork skins.
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