Jiffy is a brand of baking mixes marketed by the Chelsea Milling Company in Chelsea, Michigan, that has been producing mixes since 1930. The company was previously named Chelsea Roller Mill. They are known for their products being packaged in a recognizable, small box with the brand's logo in blue. Jiffy was created as the first prepared baking mix in the United States by Mabel White Holmes.
The company is now run and managed by her grandson, Howdy Holmes, a former Indianapolis 500 and CART driver. Holmes became the company's CEO in 1995. In March 2013, the company had around 350 employees, and in 2015 employs about 300 workers and produces 1.6 million boxes of its products each day. Its corn muffin mix accounts for 91 percent of the company's retail sales, and the company's retail market in October 2013 was $550 million.
Chelsea Milling Company is a family-operated company with roots in the flour milling business dating back to 1802. Originally a commercial operation that sold only to other businesses, its first baking mix designed for sale to consumers was created in the spring of 1930 by then-owner Mabel White Holmes. At the time, it was marketed as a way to make biscuits that was "so easy even a man could do it."
Most of the company's products are handled, processed and produced in-house, which includes grain storage, the grinding of grains into flour, product mixing and box manufacturing. Equipment repair is typically performed by company personnel. A significant amount of product ingredients are sourced from Michigan-raised crops, including "most of the wheat and some of the sugar." Some sugar and shortening is imported from the states of Illinois and Indiana. The company began offering free tours of its facilities and operations to the public in the 1960s, and continues to do so today.
In 2008, the company began expansion into the food service and institutional industries due to a decline in the home-baking products market. In 2015, this expansion effort was significantly increased, in order to better-enable the company to fulfill the needs of these industries and markets. Expansion plans were in part based upon company projections predicting that many company employees will be retiring between 2006 and 2018. In 2015, 173 of the company's employees are qualified for retirement. Expansion plans include the introduction and implementation of more modern equipment, which requires fewer personnel to operate, and an increased capacity for storage. In 2013, as part of the plans to keep the company moving forward into the future, a new research and development facility was built that cost over $6 million. The company plans for the expansions to conclude by fall 2017. In 2013, Chelsea Milling Company produced 180 million boxes of Jiffy mix during their busy season, which runs from September through January.
As of 2015, Chelsea Milling Company produces and markets 19 mixes, which are distributed to all 50 U.S. states and 32 other countries. In 2015, the company embarked upon a significant expansion. As of 2015, the company has around a 65 percent market share in the prepared muffin mix category in the United States, and a 90 percent share of the corn muffin mix market, per industry estimates and estimates by Howdy Holmes. The company avoids all advertising for its products, and spends no money on advertising. Holmes has stated that the company's employees earn more pay compared to the industry standard, and also enjoy better benefits compared to the average in the industry. In March 2013, production worker salaries averaged $47,000 annually. The company also offers various resources and classes for its employees. It has been reported that Holmes is on a first name basis with most of the company's employees, and that it is a friendly work environment.
Chelsea Milling Company has received offers from debt-financing companies and also from corporations that are interested in taking over the company. Holmes has stated that he prefers to maintain local control of the company, stating in an interview, "I didn't want a 28-year-old brat from Wall Street telling me how to run my company." Holmes also stated that the company's local nature contributes to their customer loyalty.
The company's main products are muffin mixes, including those for corn muffins (including a vegetarian variety), banana muffins, chocolate muffins, and several others. Additional products include brownie mix, cake mixes, pie and pizza crust mixes, frosting mixes, and multi-purpose baking mixes. The vegetarian corn muffin mix uses a mixture of palm and soybean oil in place of lard. Multi-purpose mixes purveyed by the company are a pancake and waffle mix, buttermilk biscuit mix and a general "baking mix". The company's corn muffin mix is its most popular brand, and has around a 90 percent market share in the corn muffin mix category in the United States. In 2013, 14 of the company's products were also manufactured in institutional-sized packaging, which is sold to institutions such as hospitals and schools, among others.
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