Made In York!
Taking advantage of the Atlantic League All-Star Game’s return to York, the York Revolution shine a spotlight on the game’s host city. Throughout the event, take a look at a small cross-section of the area companies whose products the Revolution and its neighbors are proud to say are '“Made in York!”
An initial hearing of the phrase “Made in York” might lead to thoughts of motorcycles, air conditioners and barbells. But, of course, such a thought leaves out a huge sector of York County’s economy – the blending of fertile farmland, ingenuity, and appetites that made York County the Snack Food Capital of the World. No company epitomizes that better than Martin’s Snack Foods.
It all started in the farm kitchen of Harry and Fairy Martin back in 1941, as a unique potato chip found its way into the hearts and homes of York County. Their business soon outgrew the kitchen. The Martins built a small factory and expanded their distribution from delivering fresh daily to market stands to also selling to mom and pop grocery stores.
In 1964, Harry Martin installed his first automated potato chip fryer and automatic bagging machine, expanding the capacity and reach of the business. In 1971, the Potter family bought the business from the Martins, starting a new family legacy that continues to this day, with the company still in Potter family ownership. The Potters introduced the now-legendary kettle-cooked chip in 1974. By the 1980s, kettle “cook’d” potato chips were the local favorite, and the sales were growing rapidly.
By 1990, the business had grown so much that a new plant was needed – which has now been expanded twice to accommodate growth, as popcorn and numerous other snacks have been added to the line. Today, Martin’s products reach stores from New York to North Carolina.
While Martin’s product line has grown to meet ever-changing American tastes, their commitment to quality, their employees and their community under family leadership have never wavered. They remain an outstanding example of great products “Made in York.”
BAE – a global defense manufacturer – traces its York roots to 1948, when a company named Bowen & McLaughlin leased a portion of an existing building on Kings Mill Road to recondition tanks for the U. S. Army. According to York historian Stephen Smith, York was selected because it was close to the source of the tanks (Letterkenny Army Depot), a good shipping infrastructure existed, a host of subcontractors was in the area, and York was known as a home of craftsmen who had taken an important role in manufacturing during World War II.
Seventy years later during the Iraq war, tracked vehicles were still rolling through downtown York on train cars, on their way to Bair Station in West Manchester Township to be repaired and rebuilt. And today, with new orders recently placed by the military, the BAE Systems York plant has a bright future. That facility – initially occupied by what by then was known as Bowen McLaughlin York, or BMY – was initially built and occupied in the early 1960’s. BMY became United Defense and was taken public and eventually sold to BAE in 2005.
The plant has produced a number of flagship vehicles for the U.S. military. Perhaps most notable are the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the M88 Recovery Vehicle, and the Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer. Perhaps the most famous single vehicle produced at the plant came to be named Renegade – the M88A2 Hercules vehicle that toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein during fighting in Iraq.
York Container Company
When Yorkers think about what is made here, perhaps “corrugated boxes” are not the first thing that comes to mind. Little do they know that York’s long involvement in paper and similar products includes a sophisticated manufacturer of much of the high-end packaging and product displays that shows up on their doorstep or their grocery store.
Since 1954, York Container has been designing and making innovative ways for producers of products to get them to their customers – and display them once they are there. York Container buys huge rolls of what looks to a layperson as plain brown paper, and uses sophisticated equipment the size of a house to turn them into high-end corrugated packaging for candy, beer, bug spray, produce, medicine, and hundreds of other products.
The key to the end product for York Container is more than just sophisticated equipment, however – it’s the design and production skill of its associates. A full, in-house design studio allows the company to work with its customers to design unique specialty displays, and then use the equipment to execute those creative ideas cost-effectively. The team of 265 employees has an average tenure with the company of over 10 years, giving them an edge over their competitors in skill and production capability.
York Container’s specialty is designing sophisticated packages that ship a product to retailers looking like a “plain box,” but once there convert into a shelf or stand-up display for the retailer. So, the next time you’re in a grocery or convenience store and you see a “cardboard display shelf,” you may be looking at yet another product “Made in York!”