Martin’s Snacks, a small business with big community success in York County


YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — You probably know that York County is the snack capital of the world. We produce a long list of goodies here in the Midstate. But the fact is, not many of these companies are family-owned anymore. In Thomasville, you’ll find one: Martin’s Snacks. Even though it’s not one of the giants in the snacking businesses, its can-do attitude made a difference for its 180 employees during the pandemic.

“We literally set up, and this is crazy, we set up a sewing machine in a warehouse and had two of our people who know how to sew very well making masks for us,” CEO Butch Potter said.

Potter grew up with the smell of these potato chips. His parents bought the business when he was ten. His Dad’s picture remains on bags of kettle chips, Ken Potter’s favorite. Ken passed away last year. Butch makes it a point to operate with lessons learned from his Dad.

“It’s important that I’m honest and I have integrity and that employees understand and believe that,” Potter said.

Martin’s sells in six states, with potatoes coming from six states. They are cut, cooked, seasoned, bagged, and weighed on an assembly line partially designed by Butch himself. He has a degree in chemical engineering and came home to run the business after a five-year stint at Nestle.

A key to Martin’s chips is consistently cutting the potatoes evenly across. One of the more impressive machines on the production line has a camera that very quickly examines each chip and blows the imperfect ones away with a puff of air. The machine costs as much as the average house.

“I think that’s part of the reason for our success is making quality chips. You gotta have good equipment,” Potter said.

The Midstate is a good area for Potter to be in the snack business.

“Our customer base is this area, so that’s number one. Our employees are in this area. Everything we have is built on community,” Potter said.

And so, Martin’s gives back.

Pat Halpin-Murphy, founder of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, says, “It’s because of Martin’s Potato Chips and the Potter family that we’re able to do the work that we do. They’re deeply rooted in the community and very successful.”

Martin’s has donated $250,000 to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition alone.

Butch knows he could easily sell to one of the huge snack companies that have gobbled up comparable competitors. But he says that won’t happen anytime soon.

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