Old school is the new cool at Chelsea Milling. The 124-year-old company hasn't significantly changed its Jiffy-brand blue-and-white graphic boxes in more than 50 years. It produces some 22 flour mixes of cake, muffin, crust, frosting, and other batter-based foods. Mixes are sold in grocery stores as well as to foodservice and institutional customers across the US. Vertical integration (the company mills its own grain and stamps its own boxes) and a word-of-mouth advertising practice helps keep prices low. Mabel White Holmes created the first Jiffy mix in 1930, claiming, "The mix is so simple, even a man can do it." The family-owned company is led by her grandson, Howdy Holmes, a former Indy race-car driver.
With Mr. Holmes driving "Team Jiffy"'s strategy, the company has grown both through development of its product portfolio and its market presence. To support increasing demand, Chelsea Milling invested approximately $3.5 million to build six new grain storage silos, with a combined capacity of 300,000 bushels. The expansion, completed in 2011, was the first and biggest grain storage project for the maker of Jiffy products since early 1960. More grain storage also enables Chelsea Milling to buy wheat under favorable market prices, such as harvest time, and to manage wheat blending better.
Meanwhile, although retail customers are its core customer base, in 2007 and 2008 Chelsea Milling took a transformation step to create two divisions to serve the institutional and foodservice industries. The company offers institutional customers more than a dozen products in 50-pound bags, and foodservice operators, cases containing 12 two-and-a-half-pound boxes. Boxes are considered easier to use in smaller restaurant operations than the industry standard case of six five-pound bags. In addition, Chelsea Milling can keep its familiar Jiffy box graphics. – less