Ballreich’s wins national chip awards

Ballreich Bros, Inc., a Tiffin staple for potato chip and other snacks since 1920, was recently recognized nationally for their potato chips and sticks. Ballreich’s has been in the news frequently lately with the opening of their Granny B’s Company Store last September, and their recent half-million dollar investment in new equipment.

Read more about the awards in Ballreich’s official press release:Ball Award

On July 16, 2016, the nation’s first Potato Chip Festival was held in Saratoga Springs, New York, the birthplace of potato chips.  This event not only created history for the potato chip, but also for Ballreich’s Potato Chips and Snacks.  We are proud to announce our remarkable awards:

  • Gold Medal for Best Plain Potato Chip
    for our Regular Marcelled Potato Chip
    We were the judges’ #1 choice for this category.
  • Gold Medal for Best Potato Stick
    for our Smokey Sweet Mesquite Potato Stick
  • Champion Best Potato Stick
    for our Smokey Sweet Mesquite Potato Stick
    We are now the Best Potato Stick in the Nation!

These awards are a great honor, as the competition was fierce.  We competed against Lay’s, Utz, Wise, Jones’, Bickel’s, Mister Bee, Better Made, Herr’s and more!  Making these awards even sweeter is the fact that the festival was held in a region of New York outside our normal distribution area, where many judges and attendees enjoyed our potato chips and sticks for the first time!

Mennel Milling Company to expand

MennelThe Mennel Milling Company, headquartered in Fostoria, has announced plans to purchase General Mills’ Martel Bakery Mix and Packaging plant, expanding their product line into the bakery mix business. The sale is expected to be finalized Nov. 1.

“With this acquisition we will no longer be constrained to selling flour as an ingredient into baked goods or bakery mix,” President D. Ford Mennel said in a press release. “We will now be able to offer a full line of bakery mix products to our big box, commercial, wholesale and bakery customers and marketplaces.”

This expansion is the latest in a series of expansions over the past year. In January, the company announced plans to invest $40-50 million to revitalize their facility. The 2020 Plan is a 10-year project to improve the Fostoria plant by consolidating business operations into one location and expanding grain storage capabilities.

MennelLast year, Mennel invested over $8 million in local projects, several of which are ongoing. They installed a new transformer, replaced four grain bins (all of which were more than 100 years old), and installed a new flour-drying system and a new extrusion plant. They are also preparing to move to their new corporate headquarters in August and plan to add four more storage bins, doubling their previous capacity.

The Mennel Milling Company has been milling wheat into flour since 1886. Their corporate headquarters are located in Fostoria, Ohio, with five flour mills, seven elevators and three trucking companies located across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Virginia. Mennel has been a supplier to the Martel, Ohio facility for over 40 years.


Joint Justice Center Ground Breaking Ceremony this Friday

jjc renderingSeneca County and the City of Tiffin invite the public to attend the ground breaking ceremony for the Joint Justice Center at Courthouse Square in downtown Tiffin this Friday, July 22. The long-anticipated project is the first joint county-city court system housed under the same roof in the state of Ohio.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. with the presentation of the colors by the United Veterans Council. City and county officials will also be on hand to speak and assist in the ground breaking. Parking is available in the city and county parking lots within walking distance.

The brand new 36,000 square foot facility is projected to cost about $14 million and include the city of Tiffin’s Municipal Court and Clerk of the Courts as well as the county’s Common Pleas Court, Clerk of the Courts and Probation Department. Silling Associates have been tapped for the architecture of the project while the Gilbane Building Company will cover construction management.

The first floor will be a public entrance with space for security screening, as well as offices for the title clerk and legal clerk and central holding cells.The second floor is devoted to Tiffin’s Municipal Court, with space for the courtroom, a jury deliberation room, the judge’s office suite and an office for the Clerk of Courts. The third and fourth floors are devoted to the Seneca Coutnty Common Pleas Courts, and include courtroom space, hearing rooms, jury deliberation rooms and office suites for the judges.

As construction begins, the leadership team for the project has asked the Seneca County Historical Society and the Tiffin Historic Trust to organize a group of local historic representatives to coordinate the assembly of items for a time capsule to be sealed into an interior wall of the building. During the Seneca County Fair, there will be a collection box for suggestions in the Seneca County and Seneca County Township Association Tent near the entertainment building. Suggestions also can be sent to Time capsule ideas, c/o County Commissioners, 111 Madison St., Tiffin, OH 44883 or emailed to

National Depression Era Glass Show this weekend

Press release provided by Destination Seneca County.


National Depression Glass Association, Inc. brings show to Tiffin

ndgaTIFFIN, OHIO –The 42nd National Depression Glass Association Convention Show and Sale is being held in Tiffin, Ohio this year, making it the first time held in Ohio and the fourth time across the Mississippi. On July 16 and 17, glass collectors, enthusiasts and first time visitors are meeting at Tiffin University’s Heminger Center, 350 Miami St.

In addition to the show and sale, the organization is to hold a silent auction and live auction, along with glass identification, educational seminars and displays, and hourly door prize drawings. Additional seminars are to be announced. Authors Tom and Neila Bredehoft, Ed Goshe, and Craig Schenning are to be in attendance.

Admission is $8 and is good for the entire weekend.

“Depression Glass” is the American made, transparent glassware made from the early to mid-1920s up until World War II, made exclusively by manufacturers in the Ohio River Valley, including the Tiffin Glass Company, which is still best known for its stemware and was one of the largest producers of stemware during the Depression.

Over 100 patterns were made by more than 20 manufacturers—common colors included crystal, pink, pale blue, green, and amber. Less common colors included yellow, ultramarine, pale green, pale blue, cobalt blue, red, black, amethyst, monax, and white.

The glass is divided into two types: “Depression” glass and “Elegant” glass—Depression glass was machine made and frequently came in boxes of laundry detergent, while elegant glass was blown.

The National Depression Glass Association organized in 1974 and held its first annual convention and sale in 1975. Starting in 1999, the NDGA established its National Glass Collection, which is one of the most comprehensive Depression glass collections. Before 2012, the collection was shown at the glass shows around the country, and starting in 2012, the NDGA established a museum for its collection in Wellington, KS.

“The convention will have some of the finest dealers of Depression era glass in one area. Many dealers, glass collectors, and enthusiasts have collected glass for a very long time and have an immense knowledge of the industry and things produced,” show co-chair and collector Tom Maiberger said.

Glass collector and author Ed Goshe said the show has much to offer for any kind of enthusiast. “If people collect a certain line, there is a good chance that they will buy some of it there,” he said.

“Another reason would be just to get an idea of what was made by the different companies. There will also be tables of displays of glassware, which also would be worth the price of admission. For some people, just seeing the artistic side of glassware design, would be worth attending the show for.”

For more information, visit

About Destination Seneca County

Destination Seneca County is the visitor services section of Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services. Centrally located in the heart of northwest Ohio, Seneca County offers shopping, attractions, and good food, all with hometown charm. You can take a look back in time by visiting one of our many museums like the Seneca County Museum nestled along the banks of the Sandusky River, or check out one of our unique attractions such as Seneca Caverns or the Fostoria Rail Park, then end a busy day at one of our local restaurants. With plenty to see and do, you’re going to love it here. For more information, visit

Old Fort Banking celebrates 100 years

Press release from the Old Fort Banking Comany.

Old FortBankThe Old Fort Banking Company is celebrating its 100th year as an independent community bank.

Chartered as a state banking institution, Old Fort was incorporated on July 18, 1916.  Today, the bank remains a locally owned and operated financial institution.  Headquartered in Tiffin, Ohio, Old Fort has assets totaling approximately $500 million.  The Old Fort Banking Company remains an independent bank and operates through a community banking model that is the foundation for local decision making and provides the basis for client service that is reliable, responsive and competent.

“It is with great pride that The Old Fort Banking Company celebrates the bank’s 100th Anniversary,“ said Michael C. Spragg, President and Chief Executive Officer.  “It is a true testament to the men and women who have been a part of this organization before us and with us today.  As we reflect on the great legacy of Old Fort Bank and its founders, we look to the future with even greater excitement.”

“Today more than ever, people are seeking peace of mind and trust, particularly when it comes to their financial institution,” said Mike Daniel, the bank’s Chief Financial and Operating Officer.  “For 100 years, The Old Fort Banking Company has been a pillar of strength in the communities we serve.  Since our founding, we have successfully navigated all 12 of our nation’s documented economic recessions, as well as The Great Depression.  We believe it is this experience that differentiates The Old Fort Banking Company from so many of our competitors.  Old Fort continues to thrive as one of the oldest independent community banks in the region.  Our goals and objectives are not driven by Wall Street.  We focus on the local economy rather than reaching into unfamiliar markets.”

Spragg stated that other key factors that differentiate The Old Fort Banking Company include: Utilizing new technology to make banking faster, more convenient, mobile, and secure.  Old Fort also adheres to a strict policy of independence.  While other banks have come and gone over the years, Old Fort remains steadfast in its commitment to remaining independent in order to set its own course and make decisions at the local level.

The Old Fort Banking Company is known for reinvesting in the communities it serves.  Through volunteerism, monetary and in-kind contributions, Old Fort is there for the community.

“We are committed to our role in the community,” said Eric Willman, Retail Administration Officer for Old Fort.  “We look forward to continuing our 100-year tradition of forging long-lasting relationships and providing honest guidance and financial services to area businesses and residents.  Our unwavering commitment to community values has helped fuel our history of continuous growth and expansion of services and market areas.  We are proud of our past and we are excited about our future.”

Old Fort Bankers are deeply involved and committed to making the local communities a better place to live.  It is an essential part of what they do and who they are as a community bank.  The Old Fort Banking Company supports its corporate responsibility efforts by directing resources to make a meaningful difference to the people who live and work in the communities in which the bank operates.  Through volunteer and financial support of numerous projects, Old Fort Bank assists in the success of its communities.  “In fact, since 2006, The Old Fort Banking Company has donated over $1.7 million to local charities and organizations,” said Daniel.

“As a community bank, we believe it is our responsibility to develop strong roots in each community we serve, through both financial support and employee involvement.  We maintain a strong presence in a variety of service organizations, charitable causes and public efforts.  Our associates are also active members of civic groups, economic development programs, educational projects and revitalization efforts.  Old Fort bankers are devoted to the communities they serve and, in a mutually beneficial relationship, we thrive when those communities are healthy, secure and prosperous,” Spragg stated.

”The success of The Old Fort Banking Company has always been rooted in community,” Spragg said.  “As we celebrate and reflect on the past 100 years, our greatest successes have been our client’s greatest successes.  Whether it is helping with the purchase of a new home, assisting in sending a child to college, financing local businesses, working with volunteer groups and other community organizations…we are privileged to have played a part in all of them.”

This year also marks not only Old Fort Bank’s centennial year but another historic milestone for Old Fort with the introduction of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).  Employee ownership now defines The Old Fort Banking Company, where thanks to the ESOP, the employees are the bank’s largest group of shareholders.  88 percent of all Old Fort Bank employees became shareholders.  Chances are the next time you visit an Old Fort Bank, you will be served by an owner…truly a locally owned community bank.

The completion of the acquisition and ESOP transaction took place in December of 2015.  “What has been accomplished is not only historic, but it has achieved the objectives of many hard-working individuals and assists in preserving a vital community asset…The Old Fort Banking Company.  We are not aware of any holding company which was able to take its ESOP from 0 percent to over 45 percent in a single, integrated transaction…which is a true testament to our management team, associates, and board of directors,” stated Spragg.

In technical terms, The Old Fort Banking Company Employee Stock Ownership Plan was approved as a bank holding company by acquiring 45 percent of the common stock of Gillmor Financial Services and, therefore, indirectly acquiring control of the bank.  The ESOP is valued at $15 million, and is designed as a retirement vehicle that does not require employees to make matching contributions, unlike a 401(k), which the bank also offers its employees.

The Old Fort Banking Company is proud to be a well-managed financial institution that continues to grow and provide safe and secure banking for its clients.  During these challenging economic times, Old Fort Bank has never wavered from its adherence to the core principles that have guided its growth and sustained its strength in the marketplace for 100 years.  The bank remains focused on: strong liquidity, disciplined underwriting standards, a consistent and conservative credit philosophy, having knowledgeable and experienced staff, and delivering superior client service.

Old Fort will be celebrating its centennial anniversary with numerous events throughout the year, notably with a client appreciation lunch held on July 15th, in Old Fort.  Special anniversary products, services, and material will be unveiled as the year progresses.

The Old Fort Banking Company proudly serves Allen, Greene, Hancock, Sandusky, Seneca and Wood Counties, with financial centers in Bettsville, Clyde, Findlay, Fostoria, Fremont, Old Fort, Tiffin and Sugarcreek Township.  Old Fort operates a commercial loan production office in Lima and also has a mortgage loan production facility in Xenia.  Old Fort is a recognized leader in community banking throughout the area in assisting members of the community, including local businesses, farmers, individuals and corporations.


Poignon invests in business, holds community art event

poignon ownersRyan and Monica Poignon, owners of the Poignon Project, located at 227 East Perry Street, have invested into their small business by purchasing the building they were renting. The previous owner had held the building, which at one time was a grocery store and a barber shop, since 1972.

“The past five years, moving back to Tiffin was the greatest thing I ever did,” Ryan said. “There is so much support here.”

Ryan said this was the next step in his plans to grow his business as well as the art community in Tiffin. Motivation to purchase the building also came from the Poignons’ investment in express yourself dayscustomizing their shop. Ryan said the glassblowing equipment alone is worth $20,000, and there is another $20,000 invested in the building. Ryan’s next step will be moving his glassblowing equipment to a different part of the building to expand classes and workshops. Along with art education for adults, he is also looking to expand into art camps for children.

In addition, starting July 16-17, the Poignon Project will be hosting “Express Yourself Days” to support the local art community and raise donations for local charities. The July event will feature live music, art vendors, food vendors, live chainsaw art, live glassblowing and more. There will also be a cardboard house building contest to help grow awareness of homelessness in Seneca County.

Ryan’s efforts to extend opportunities in the arts to the community stem from seeing the need in the Tiffin community. “When I was in high school, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the arts. I never imagined that I would be sitting here in front of my own building,” he said. “This is something for everyone to learn: don’t give up.”

Ryan recently published his own motivational book featuring his works called “If You Do Nothing You Are Nothing,” a motto he certainly lives by.

For more infomation, visit


Treasurer’s office supports small business with GrowNOW program

GrowNow-Brochure-ThumbGrowNOW is a partnership between eligible banks and the Ohio Treasurer’s office. The program enables small business owners to receive up to a 3% interest rate reduction on new or existing small business loans for two years, with the opportunity for renewal for another two year period. Small business owners must commit to the creation or retention of at least one full-time job or two part-time jobs in the State of Ohio for every $50,000 borrowed, up to $400,000. GrowNOW broadly serves as a catalyst for Ohio’s economic development by supporting the small businesses that drive it.

The GrowNOW interest rate reduction will be based on the loan’s interest rate, as determined for each borrower by the respective bank.  If the interest rate is above 5%, the reduction will be 3%.  If the interest rate is 5% or below, the reduction will be 2.1%.

Eligible business owners must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have less than 150 employees
  2. Have headquarters in Ohio
  3. Maintain offices and operating facilities exclusively in Ohio
  4. Must have a majority of employees be Ohio residents
  5. Must be organized for profit
  6. Must be able to save or create one full-time or two part-time jobs in Ohio for every $50,000 borrowed

GrowNOW gives approval preference to veterans through the Veteran’s Preference Program. If you are a veteran or a spouse of a veteran, please click here for more information.

Follow these simple steps to complete your application:

  1. View a list of eligible banks (Please note: Only “public depository” banks, as that term is used in Chapter 135 of the Ohio Revised Code, are eligible to participate in Economic Development programs sponsored by the Ohio Treasurer’s office.  Contact this office if your current bank is unable to participate, so we can provide alternate participating banks in your area.)
  2. Apply for a small business loan at a participating bank and establish an interest rate.  Alternatively, GrowNOW interest rate reductions may be applied to an existing loan.
  3. Complete an online GrowNOW application with your bank. Paper applications can be used to gather your information in advance of online entry.
  4. If the application meets all program requirements it will be approved, and the Ohio Treasurer’s office will deposit funds at the participating bank in an interest bearing financial instrument.
  5. In turn, the bank uses the interest generated to provide the interest rate reduction.

Upon submission of your completed application, the Economic Development department within the Treasurer’s office typically determines eligibility within 5 business days.

From the Ohio Treasurer’s office. Learn more here.

Dead Shark Productions

20160623_180831In honor of Dead Shark Week…

Meet Alex and Brady Doepker, owners of Dead Shark Productions based in Tiffin. Alex and Brady are Tiffin-native brothers with exceptional videography skills. You may know them from Mayor Aaron Montz’s “Keep Tiffin Moving Forward” video, or the series of promotional pieces for the Tiffin Music and Art Festival, but there is so much more to Dead Shark Productions.

The Doepkers got their start early, assisting their dad in making wedding videos as children. “We started helping as soon as we could hold cameras, and that became our weekend and summer jobs,” Brady said.

“Video production has always been the plan,” Brady said. Alex and Brady made their first short film in 1998, “The World’s Greatest Baseball Player,” as part of a summer video production class for kids through Heidelberg University. From there, both went to college to pursue filmmaking degrees.

In 2013, they began using the name Dead Shark Productions. “If a shark doesn’t move forward, it dies. It’s fitting for our business, because if we are not out there making films and trying new things, we lose motivation,” Alex said.

Most of their work takes place in Seneca County, and they are happy to keep their services here. Alex explained, “I was never one with a strong need to leave Tiffin. Clearly, things are going in the right direction here. I always thought, ‘Why can’t I do this here? Why can’t we have something of this quality, this production value?’ People don’t have to go to big cities to get great videos.”

“We set up our base here, and we can always travel,” Brady added.

Dead Shark Production’s services include commercials, music videos, wedding videography, live events and media conversion, and they also create their own short films, but they are open to trying new things. “If it’s video in any way,” Alex said, “we can probably do it.”

With more than $20,000 invested in equipment and terabytes of footage from around the county, these sharks are certainly moving forward.

Check out their work on their YouTube Channel and learn more at their website.

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Seneca County to hold Manufacturing Showcase for students

Local manufacturers to demonstrate skilled trades to high school students

SCMS_logoTIFFIN, OHIO – June 30, 2016 – The Seneca Department of Job and Family Services/OhioMeansJobs is partnering with local organizations and manufacturers to hold Seneca County’s first Manufacturing Showcase on October 14, 2016 at Seiberling Gymnasium on the Heidelberg University campus. The event is an opportunity for area students to learn about careers in manufacturing and participate in hands-on skill demonstrations.

Carol Kern of Seneca DJFS is spearheading the effort: “Sandusky County held a similar event with tremendous success, and we would like to bring that same success to Seneca County. Our goal is to show local youths that there are many career opportunities within manufacturing and to give local companies an opportunity to interact with the future workforce.”

The showcase will focus on six skills: team building, lean practices, employability, machining, supply chain and mechanical engineering/electrical trades/automation. For each skill, there are six spaces available for a hands-on demonstration.

Thirteen schools in Seneca County will send more than 700 students to participate in the showcase. The event will last a full day, with students split into one morning session and one afternoon session. Lunch will be provided at no cost.

Several manufacturers are already on board; Roppe Holding Company/Seneca Millwork, Inc., Nox Corporation, and The Mennel Milling Company of Fostoria have signed on as well as National Machinery, Webster Industries, Toledo Molding & Die, Tiffin Metal Products and Quick Tab II of Tiffin. If you would like more information, to make a donation, or to sign up for a space at the showcase, please contact Carol at 419.447.5011 ext. 322, or visit