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West Virginia Wesleyan College MBA Class visits Mister Bee Potato Chips, focuses on challenges

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – Mister Bee Potato Chips, the only potato chip maker in West Virginia, hosted Professor Kim Conrad, Ph.D., and 15 students in her West Virginia Wesleyan College MBA class at its production facility February 7 as part of a real-world business teaching experience.

The MBA students, who have divided into five teams of three students each, are addressing different business development and marketing challenges facing the small, woman-owned business. At the end of the semester, the teams will present to Mister Bee leaders their findings and recommendations.

“We thought after our initial briefing with Dr. Conrad, it would be helpful if the students saw firsthand the manufacturing facility and our state-of-the-art fryer and processing facility,” said Mary Anne Ketelsen, president of Mister Bee Potato Chips. “They can see the process – from start to finish – and meet the people who make it all happen.”

Professor Conrad said having an existing company to focus on is far greater experience than a simulation in the classroom. “Our students and our institution are very grateful that an iconic West Virginia brand like Mister Bee would enthusiastically open their doors to graduate students who want to make a difference,” said Conrad.

“No matter how long you’ve has been in business, there are challenges that keep you up at night,” said Ketelsen. “Mister Bee enjoys working with students of all ages and the talented public school and higher education faculty in the state. I am looking forward to hearing the insights and observations the MBA students share with us after their plant tour, research and collaboration.”

Mister Bee is also working with West Virginia University at Parkersburg and West Virginia University Potomac State College in Keyser on strategies to grow more in-state potatoes for production at the company. Ketelsen also said educational partnerships with the West Virginia Manufacturers Association are in the works.

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About Mister Bee Potato Chips

Mister Bee Potato Chip Company was founded in 1951 by Leo and Sara Klein and had its first offices on Mary Street in Parkersburg, West Virginia. At that time, the chips would be made in the morning and then Mr. Klein would distribute the fresh product in the afternoon. In November 1962, the company was moved to West Virginia Avenue, where the chips are still made today. Leo Klein operated the business until 1979, when he passed away at the age of 73. The company remained with the Klein family until incurring financial difficulties in 2010. Mister Bee now operates as West Virginia Potato Chip Company and was purchased in 2015 by new owners Mary Anne (Welch) Ketelsen, Douglas Ketelsen, James Richard Barton, Gregory Barton, and Gregory Reed, along with Mary Maxine Welch participating in financing. Website:  https://misterbee.com/

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