Bluffton Pretzel Company Snacks on Success

By Eric Olson

June 18, 2010 Updated Feb 17, 2010 at 2:27 PM EDT

BLUFFTON, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Chip: Their original intent was to land somewhere in the Huntington area…had car trouble, got towed into Bluffton. And that’s how ended up roots in Bluffton.

It may have begun as a fluke but in one form or another Bluffton’s Pretzel’s Incorporated has been churning out toasty, salty snacks for more than half a century. The company’s roots reach back to1954, when Bill Mann and Bill Huggins’s, best friends since elementary school, headed out from Baltimore for Huntington, Indiana to start a pretzel company. Their car broke down in Bluffton and they never left, founding the Duchess Pretzel Company. The business has gone through several incarnations since, reorganizing as Pretzel’s Incorporated in 1978. The only bump in the road, a devastating arson fire, Christmas Eve 1997.

Chip: One of the darkest deepest days I think we either had.

Chip Mann and Steve Huggin’s are the founder’s sons and run the business now, the Christmas Eve fire still fresh in their memories.

Steve: The whole back half of our facility was on fire our warehouse and packaging room.

But the company rebuilt, added space and staff and now makes products for about thirty separate labels, including their own Harvest Road brand. Bluffton Indiana and the snack food business has proved to be a very good partnership.

It’s great as my dad said we’re a little bit twisted but that’s all right. We’ve been able to maintain our business volume had a very good run the last couple of years and believe with what’s on the table it’s gonna continue to be strong.

The founders are retired now spending lots of time in Florida not far from each other. But son’s Chip and Steve seem to be doing just fine without them…maybe a little too fine.

Chip: Bill Huggins is president and Bill Mann’s ceo but don’t tell ‘em that’s soon to change.

They won’t hear it from us, promise. Eric Olson, out in Your Country.

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