Some Background on My Dad's Chips
Today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the opportunity to interview My Dad's Chips and CFO, Brian Edell. My Dad's Chips produces thin-sliced, kettle-cooked, Russet potato chips that contain 22% less salt than competitors. Cooked in their proprietary oil blend, My Dad's Chips have a robust real potato flavor! My Dad's Chips has been a staple of the Gaithersburg, MD community since 2009, when founder Gary Edell first made his chips. When his kids went off to college, Gary would send them Tupperware containers filled with potato chips to make them feel at home. When the kids shared the chips with their friends, they always said "WOW these chips are delicious! Where'd you get them?" to which the response was "they're My Dad's Chips" and the business was born.
The company ran their first production in April 2022 and the product was brought to market 5 months later. Initially they took every opportunity to sample and distributing POS materials including index cards and flyers. Throughout the year journey they have been told that the packaging stands out on shelves and the name sparks curiosity. Brian told us they take advantage of that to gain new consumers. The company just recently started a social media advertising campaign as they are focused on growth.
My Dad's Chips are currently sold in 145 total retail outlets, find them here. They recently partnered with Rainforest Distribution on May 1st, which got them into 68 locations within the first 6 weeks. The partnership has been great for My Dad's Chips and they are encouraged to see the continued growth in reach!
The company's products are also sold online D2C via their website, BUY HERE! and in various vending machines and office cafes in the northeast.
Innovation and Purpose
As impressive as this first year has been for My Dad's Chips, it wasn't all smooth sailing. Brian shared with us that about 5-6 years after his Father's first creation, the family was noticing the support the chips were gaining. And not just by friends and family. They thought it would be really cool to build something if they put their minds to it. Even crazier than starting a business is starting one in which they have no knowledge of the industry! That's right, Brian told us they knew nothing about the chip business, but believed in the product and went for it.
Several of the manufacturers that My Dad's Chips initially reached out to turned them down for a variety of reasons. They didn't want to use the proprietary oil, their potatoes, or cut the thin chips. They were facing adversity and didn't feel they had the right partner to help the company thrive and grow along its journey. Brian told us about the encounter that would be a pivotal moment for the company as he shared, "We were at a Penn State Football Game tailgating (our Mom went to PSU), we made a connection there who asked if we had heard of Hartley's in Lewistown, PA. They had an in and made the introduction for us." Now situated with a manufacturing partner that understands the vision of My Dad's Chips, they felt ready to conquer anything. Until the next adversity would hit...
"Our first run, we burned through 14,000 potatoes!", Brian informed us. He told us it was demoralizing, but they had two options, "Either sit there and feel sorry for ourselves, or learn what we did wrong and never make that mistake again", he shared. Glass half full outlook, they took this opportunity to educate themselves and the next run a month and a half later was a complete success. He told us how important it was to adapt and make adjustments on the fly.
What makes a chip?
My Dad's Chips has 3 key characteristics to stand out from the competition
Russet Potatoes Some competitors use russet potatoes but for a singular flavor, whereas My Dad's Chips only uses russets for each and every flavor.
Proprietary Oil Blend Not a single company in the entire $8.9B chip industry uses the blend of My Dad's Chips. Setting them apart from every other option on the shelf.
22% less salt Not a vehicle to consume salt. Most kettle cooked chips are thicker cut. Theirs however are intentionally thin to feel thin, light, and airy, but still sturdy enough to dip and put spread on. Even with being thin cut, they still really taste like potatoes too.
The products are available in 2 sizes (1.75 oz and 7 oz for grocery), with 3 flavors being available (original, barbecue, and salt & balsamic vinegar). We asked Brian to describe the culture of the company and he elaborated, "Our ability to cater to each client. We like to call chips 'homestyle potato chips', because that is how they started, right in our kitchen. But also the feeling associated with our chips. We envision our clients and our customers being a part of the MDC Family. Growing together, being a part of something. What we are striving to become will be created by solving everything the potato chip has been lacking."
Another important aspect of the company's culture is their community giving back. MDC Gives Back works to support the communities closest to them. One avenue they do this is by partnering with organizations that support individuals who suffer from abuse. The other channel they participate with is "The Complete Player Charity", which strives to provide for those who don't have access to proper nutrition and education. They also seek to provide equal housing in parts of Montgomery county in Maryland working with The Dwelling Place. Brian said that partnering on these two causes keeps the perspective in mind of how important it is to give back while on their mission of building their company.
The company is working on an 18 oz bag for big chain retailers and restaurants. As Brian told us, "perfect for restaurants who want to offer a chip option as a side for their entrées." The company is working on 2 new releases by the end of 2023 - French Onion and Jalapeño Sriracha.
They also are intrigued about continuing to build the reach with their partnership of Rainforest Distribution. As Brian shared, they are hoping to penetrate the "Mid-Atlantic" region which covers (South Jersey to Virginia Beach).
The last piece they are working on is adding to the staff as they continue to grow. Brian is excited to add individuals who understand the goal of the company and want to be a part of the story and journey as they build the company.
Also purchase from their website and use the coupon code
"KLS" for a 20% discount!
Whirlwind of a year
We asked Brian to take us through the fears and doubts he had starting this a little over a year ago, and he informed us, "I quit my job before we brought the chips to market. It was a huge leap of faith. Every day is a fire drill, but we always seem to find an answer. It goes back to our first run where we failed. Even if we make a mistake, we always have the opportunity to learn and retrain ourselves to be better going forward. Everyone has that fear and doubt at the beginning, but everyone starts at zero. Everyone is a someone in this world and you are what you make of it."
Incredibly well said Brian.
The purpose behind the company isn't to get rich or build a humungous brand, but as Brian shared, "We want to provide as many people access to a better quality chip. That is our goal. To be open to community as possible, because we wouldn't be here without them. So we will continue to be transparent, open, up front, honest, and most of all inclusive."
When we put Brian on the spot inquiring about this favorite aspect of working at MDC, he told us it is always seeing the moment people experience enjoying the chip for the first time. We asked him if there is one moment that sticks out the most, and he said there have been a handful of surreal moments. "We got into Hoboken in Jersey, my Mom is from that area, so seeing it on the shelf with friends and family meant a lot to us. Watching the partnership with Rainforest develop has been rewarding. Recently I was sitting in the warehouse with my Dad and we had 50 pallets of chips to ship out, it was so humbling and awesome to see. All of it is validating, a reason to us doing this, we have proof of concept now. And the coolest part is people like the chips, just like we did back in '09", he told us.
Getting to share what they knew back in 2009, these chips are unlike anything else. Only now the whole world can have that experience when consuming My Dad's Chips.
KLS wants to thank Brian for sharing the story of My Dad's Chips for today's "Together Talks" feature. Keep up to date with MDC by following their blog on their website, check it out here. Follow along for the My Dad's Chips journey with their social handles below!