Category: “JIFFY” in the News

50 Grocery Store Products Chefs Love

This Chef Calls Jiffy the Rolls-Royce of Cornbread Mix.

Check out the brands chefs can’t live without.

Originally posted by: Food Network — 10/15/2018

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Jiffy Mix And Its Rich Washtenaw County History

Originally posted by: WEMU 89.1 — 6/12/2018

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Now Hiring!

Originally posted by: Ann Arbor Observer — 12/6/2017

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“JIFFY” Mix Backstage Pass

Originally posted by: Authentic Michigan — 8/7/2017

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Potatoes, Pop, and JIFFY Corn Muffins: Michigan’s agri-businesses thrive and reinvest

Originally posted by: Second Wave Michigan — 3/26/2017

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Michigan Celebrates Food and Agriculture Gala brings out the best in the industry

Originally posted by: Corp! Magazine — 3/9/2017

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Jiffy Mix CEO: ‘Retro hip’ business was built on reputation

Originally posted by: Prairie Family Business Association — 3/6/2017

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Entrepreneurship Hour with Howdy Holmes

Originally posted by: University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship — 4/7/2016

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Muffin But The Best

Originally posted by: Food Factory USA — 4/4/2016

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Made in Michigan: Jiffy Mix

Originally posted by: ABC12 – WJRT Flint — 2/24/2016

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Article by: Randy Conat

CHELSEA (WJRT) – (02/24/16) – There’s a product that’s Made in Michigan that can be found in nearly every kitchen in the country. The company has been around for more than 100 years and never had a layoff.

It’s Jiffy Mix made in Chelsea near Ann Arbor.

The boxes of Jiffy Mix fly down the assembly line at the Chelsea Milling Company. 1.6 million boxes a day are sent around the nation and to 32 countries.

“When people think of Jiffy Mix, they pretty much think of us as the muffin company because our corn muffins are so popular. We actually have 92 percent of market share,” said Howdy Holmes, Chelsea Milling Company president and CEO.

One reason sales are so good is the price.

“You can buy our corn muffins for 55 cents. That’s a pretty good deal,” Holmes said.

Sales actually increase during recessions because people eat at home more often.

“Our whole mission is to serve working class America, the blue collar gang, if you will,” Holmes said.

Jiffy Mix has become a tradition in many families. Mothers and fathers often pass down their favorite Jiffy Mix recipes.

“Baking is an event to be shared. There’s a big emotional attachment,” Holmes said.

Jiffy Mix is able to keep prices down because the company doesn’t advertise or offer coupons. It buys local whenever possible, like the wheat used for flour.

“We get it all from the Thumb area,” Holmes said.

Much of the sugar comes from Michigan, too. Allegiance to the state is important.

“We’re Michiganders. We try to support local,” Holmes said.

The complex covers a large portion of Chelsea, about nine acres.

“Part of our structures were built in the late 1800s,” Holmes said.

There are 18 varieties of Jiffy Mix.

While Jiffy Mix is found in so many homes, the company has expanded into commercial and institutional food, like cake mix. Just over 300 people work at Chelsea Milling.

“It’s a great company to work for. Family owned forever and ever,” said Sharon Parsons.

“We’re like a big family. It’s really close knit,” said Josh Mohr.

Holmes is well-liked by the employees.

“He’s almost like a father. He’s always got words of encouragement,” Mohr said.

“We choose to take care of our people,” Holmes said.

Being a successful company attracts offers from other states to relocate.

“We have no interest in selling. It would never be the same,” Holmes said.

The next time you see that little box that becomes a plate full of delicious muffins, remember – it’s Made in Michigan.

Michigan This Morning visits Jiffy Mix (7 videos)

Originally posted by: Michigan This Morning — 11/17/2015

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New Plant Expansion

Watch our mix tower being built. A 5 day process shown in eight and a half minutes. — 10/05/2015

Family-owned funding & keeping the peace

Originally posted by: MSNBC – Your Business — 5/10/2015

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Howdy Holmes, CEO Podcast: Conversations on Economic Opportunity

Originally posted by: MLive — 11/26/2014


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Chelsea Milling Company now offering vegetarian version of best-selling corn muffin mix

Originally posted by: MLive — 10/29/2014

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Jiffy Mix launches vegetarian version of famous corn muffin mix

Originally posted by: Chelsea Standard — 10/28/2014

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MSU MBA Jiffy Mix Final Exam

Originally posted by: Broad College of Business at Michigan State University — 10/15/2014

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MSU students put sales acumen to test in the kitchen

Originally posted by: Lansing State Journal — 10/13/2014

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From Fast Lane to Fast Lane: How Howdy Holmes Transitioned From Racing Stardom to Running One of “America’s Last Great Businesses”

Originally posted by: Your American Story – Hosted by Raja — 10/12/2014

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“JIFFY” Mix: The Best Little Mix Company on the Planet

Originally posted by: MSNBC – Your Business — 1/26/2014

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Made in America

Originally posted by: ABC – World News Tonight — 12/23/2013

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New Day Cleveland – Road Trip : Chelsea, MI

Originally posted by: WJW – Fox 8 Cleveland — 9/13/2013

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Hollywood and Dine – “JIFFY” Mix Corn Sopes

Originally posted by: WJW – Fox 8 Cleveland — 9/11/2013

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10 Cult Brands So Popular They Don’t Need To Advertise

Originally posted by: The Huffington Post — 8/26/2013

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Building an Iconic Brand From Scratch

Originally posted by: Fox Business — 8/19/2013

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Jiffy Mix and the New Normal

Originally posted by: Fox Business — 8/15/2013

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Chelsea Milling in major move into institutional, food service markets

Originally posted by: BakingBusiness.com — 7/18/2013

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“JIFFY”, Another Great Michigan Company

Originally posted by: Under the Radar Michigan — 3/30/2013

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7 Reasons This Muffin Mix Can Save America

Originally posted by: PolicyMic.com — 3/29/2013

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Chelsea District Library Featured in National Case Study

Originally posted by: Chelsea Patch — 1/24/2013

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OCBJ Family Owned Business Awards 2012: Howdy S. Holmes, Jiffy Mix Keynote Address

Originally posted by: Orange County Business Journal — 11/28/2012

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“JIFFY” Mix

Originally posted by: Old West Side News — 4/1/2012

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In the Plant: The right mix for success

Originally posted by: Plant Engineering magazine — 2/15/2012

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Major grain storage expansion completed at Chelsea Milling

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Originally posted by: Milling Journal — 9/9/2011

Chelsea, MI, which lies about 50 miles southeast of Lansing, is a close-knit community with small-town charm and also home to the 124-year-old Chelsea Milling Company, which now produces more than 22 flour mixes packaged in iconic blue and white Jiffy Mix boxes.

Chelsea Milling has a long history dating back to 1887, when it was known as the Chelsea Roller Mill (see brief history on page 8).

“While our core business has long been the Jiffy Mix line of products, largely for the retail market, in the past few years, the mill has expanded into the foodservice and institutional markets,” said Howdy Holmes, 63, president and CEO of Chelsea Milling Company.

The milling facility’s rated daily capacity is 4,400 cwts., he added, and annual sales have now reached from $115 to $130 million.

 

Launched Two New Divisions

“While the retail trade was the mainstay of Chelsea Milling’s business for years, we launched an institutional division in 2007, which now offers 14 different products in 50-pound bags,” said Holmes.

Chelsea Milling also started a food-service division in early 2008, according to Holmes, but instead of offering a 30-pound case made up of six five-pound bags, which is considered standard for the foodservice industry, the company offers a case comprised of twelve 2-1/2-pound boxes, which stack much better and are more stable on the pallet.

“By using a 2-1/2-pound box instead of a five-pound sack, we think this caters to the smaller establishments like the mom-and-pop type restaurants better,” explained Holmes. “Also, the box allows us to retain the very familiar Jiffy Mix brand graphics, which aids in product recognition.”

 

Need to Expand Grain Storage

But as Chelsea Milling’s sales grew with the two new divisions so did its need to expand grain storage significantly.

“Besides a growth in sales, there were a few other key factors that led to constructing new grain storage silos,” explained Jack Kennedy, vice president and general manager, who has been with Chelsea Milling for 16 years.

First, the existing eighteen 24-by- 125-foot slipform concrete grain storage silos – which included nine interstices, with a total capacity of nearly 980,000 bushels built in 1963 – were developing age-related structural issues, forcing Chelsea Milling to fill them only to 60-80% capacity, according to Kennedy. Each silo’s capacity was approximately 49,000 bushels, 11,000 bushels for each interstice.

“This situation made it imperative that we begin making plans on how and when we would repair and upgrade these older silos,” said Kennedy. “But way before any work could start, we obviously needed enough new grain storage capacity on hand to help maintain optimum production and to coincide with the maintenance and repair work of the older silos on an orderly basis.”

More grain storage also would provide some added flexibility in procuring wheat during more opportune times in the marketplace, especially during harvest time, and aid in managing wheat blending better.

 

Quick Turnaround on Construction

Employing the engineering and design services of Sunfield Engineering, Inc., Cedar, MI (231-228-4400), Chelsea Milling broke ground on the construction of six new slipform grain storage silos with two interstices in September 2010.

With a total capacity of more than 300,000 bushels, each 28-by-100-foot silo can hold 46,000 bushels, and each interstice can store another 12,000 bushels.

“The project was completed by April 2011 at a cost of approximately $3.5 million, which was the first and biggest grain storage expansion for Chelsea Milling since the early 1960s,” said Andrew Markwart, project manager, for Adams Building Contractors (ABC), Jackson, MI (517-748-9099), the general contractor on the project.

“Due to our soil conditions and to make sure things were solid, a somewhat unique feature of this particular project was the special footings that were installed,” explained Kennedy. “Before any slipform concrete was poured above ground, 122 auger-cast piles or concrete columns were poured nearly 40 feet below the soil surface and allowed to cure before the 21-inch-thick pads, which sat on top of those auger columns.

 

A Good Fit

“Adams Building Contractors and all the other suppliers on this project were excellent and wonderful people to work with,” said Holmes. “In fact, Dave Adams who founded ABC actually worked for Chelsea Milling during the mid-1950s. ABC also is just 20 miles from our location, so that worked out very well for us logistically. They are really adept at concrete structures. I’m very proud of the job they did. I wouldn’t be hesitant to recommend them in that capacity.”

The project also provided some interest to the small community of Chelsea, added Holmes, since it was a continuous pour project that spanned 86 hours. “I’m very proud that it was done on time and on budget,” he said.

 

Efficient Precleaning System

According to Utpal Patel, Chelsea Milling project engineer, in the past, wheat cleaning was performed at the flour mill. So, as part of this grain storage expansion project, Chelsea Milling installed a Megatex wheat screening/precleaning system by Rotex Global, LLC, Cincinnati, OH, in the new elevator section. The system separates the wheat kernel from other foreign materials using associated dust collection equipment.

“Any wheat received now goes through the screening system, before being stored in any of the new or existing silo bins,” explained Patel, who has been with Chelsea Milling for two years.

The screenings coming out of the grain cleaner are stored in a screenings bin before being transferred to c the flour mill, where it gets grinded using a hammer mill, according to Patel. There also is a provision to rescreen the stored grain from any bins, before being transferred to the flour mill.

“The grain screening system helps to improve the efficiency and yield in the flour mill,” said Patel.

 

Aeration/Bin Unloading System

While most flat bottom storage silos use a sweep auger system to unload grain material, according to Kennedy, Chelsea Milling decided early on in the design phase to use an AIRLANCO AIRAUGER® unloading and aeration system, Falls City, NE (402-245-2325).

“We felt that such a system would be safer and less prone to mechanical problems and allow us to clean out the silo bottoms better,” added Kennedy.

According to Patel, the AIRAUGER system is rated to unload wheat at 8,000 bph compared to the current 5,000 bph in the existing silos. The system also is used for aeration (1/12.7 cfm per bushel).

 

Wheat Procurement

Wheat inventory is turned over nearly twice yearly. “If you look at our total inventory, we can theoretically have 1.2 million bushels of wheat on hand,” said Kennedy.

Chelsea Milling procures wheat from about a 150-mile radius around Chelsea. Although rail is an option, the majority of grain is delivered almost exclusively by truck.

“While some wheat is procured from surrounding areas near Detroit, Battle Creek, and Jackson, most of our wheat is coming from the Thumb area of Michigan,” said Kennedy. “Some wheat comes from Ontario, but this varies from year to year, comprising from 10% to 35% of our supplies. It depends on the quality of Michigan vs. Ontario wheat and the varieties being grown.”

According to Kennedy, a single Fairbanks Scales 100-foot static weigh scale is used, before the live bottom trucks dump their grain into a pit. Every incoming load is tested for DON and other potential crop problems. An automatic probing system for sample testing is used, and dockage testers are utilized in the scale house.

 

Two Classes of Wheat

“The added grain storage capacity also has been great from the standpoint that it’s now easier to manage and maintain the two classes of wheat, which we procure regularly from Michigan wheat growers—namely, soft white and soft red wheat,” said Kennedy.

“Presently, Michigan is having a wonderful, trouble-free growing season for wheat. But that’s not always the situation. Some years, you might have low falling numbers or vomitoxin problems, or it may be other quality issues.

“In those cases, we needed to have an improved blending capacity—the ability to blend off different deliveries of wheat, in order to produce a homogenous kind of blend to use in our product lines. The recently added grain storage capacity has allowed us to do that more efficiently.”

Karl Ohm, associate editor

Chelsea Milling Company Keeping it Local Since 1887

Originally posted by: Fox Business — 7/22/2011

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Interview with Howdy Holmes, President & CEO of “JIFFY” Mix.

Originally posted by: Around Town with Linda — 6/22/2011

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Secret ingredient to Jiffy Mix success: Treating employess and customers well

Originally posted by: Crain’s Detroit Business — 5/15/2011

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Recipe for success: Chelsea Milling Co. expands into food service and institutional markets

Originally posted by: AnnArbor.com — 8/15/2010

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Upper Crusts

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Originally posted by: Tulsa World — November 11,2009

By Natalie Mikles, World Scene Writer

 

Tasters put pie shells to the test

Maybe you wouldn’t imagine something as innocuous as pie crust could spur a heated debate. Well, it can.

Those who believe in the art of pie dough -who keep their butter and shortening in the freezer, use marble slabs to roll the dough and can speak to a preference of French vs. American rolling pins – will stand nothing less than homemade. But others, many others, are just fine with a frozen Mrs. Smith’s shell or the red box of Pillsbury pre-rolled dough.

So we decided to put them to a test, to see if anyone would know the difference between the homemade crust and the store-bought, as well as which was preferred. At first we thought it might not be much of a test at all. Most everyone claims to love homemade pie crust, so surely it would win. But what if, we thought, one of those mixes, boxes or frozen crusts was found to be even better?

Our testers, very willing Tulsa World staffers, analyzed the taste and texture of homemade, frozen, pre-rolled refrigerated and dry-mix varieties – all filled with cherry pie filling. Of course, they didn’t know which was which.

Here’s what we found.

 

The winner

Jiffy pie crust mix

65 cents, which makes two crusts

We never would have guessed this less-than-$1 a box mix would be so well liked.

“Light, flaky, crispy,” one tester said. “Easily the best all around.”

But it wasn’t a unanimous win. Some thought it was too dry, and one said “a bit stale – tastes like a box mix.”

Once the taste test was over and we told the testers they preferred Jiffy, most were surprised. Some didn’t know Jiffy made anything other than cornbread.

Pros: This crust took only a few minutes to make. All you do is add a few tablespoons of water, stir and then roll it out into a circle. Plus, doing those few steps makes you feel like you’ve baked from scratch.

Cons: Makes a crispy crust, which depending on your preference, can be good or

 

Second Place

Homemade

Those who preferred the homemade crust really liked the “buttery,” “rich,” “near perfect” taste. We tested using a Martha Stewart recipe for pate brisee – a basic all-butter crust. But not everyone liked it, with some saying it was “too dense” and “doughy.”

Pros: Sometimes just knowing it’s homemade makes the crust taste better. And if you like butter, no crust is as buttery or fresh as homemade.

Cons: Much more time consuming than the other three crusts we tested. And, if you don’t have a rolling pin, counter space or a board to roll out your dough, you’re in for a mess.

 

Third

It was a tie between refrigerated prerolled and frozen.

Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts

$3.49 for two crusts

After we revealed the winners, a couple of testers weren’t at all surprised to find they preferred this crust since it was the one they use at home. “Traditional and
sweet,” one said. “Most like homemade.”

Pros: Unroll, place in a pie pan and you’re done. Having a sheet of dough makes it easy if you want to create lattice or cutouts for your top crust. Cons: Some testers thought this crust was “too chewy,” “tough,” and “chemical tasting.”

Mrs. Smith’s frozen pie shells

$3.29 for two crusts

One tester, who has spent her fair share of time making pies for Thanksgiving dinner, was shocked to learn the frozen crust was her favorite. It made her wonder why she has spent so much time making pie crusts when this one is “just as good as homemade.”

Pros: The easiest of them all. The most difficult thing about this crust is opening
the package. No dishes to clean. When you’re finished, just throw the pan away.

Cons: If the aluminum pie pan it comes in doesn’t give it away as store-bought, the perfectly scalloped edge will.

Recipe for Success

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Originally posted by: Detroit Free Press — August 5, 2008

By Christy Duan

Free Press Special Writer

When Howdy Holmes arrived in 1987 at Chelsea Milling Co., the maker of Jiffy mixes, the market was moving rapidly. The family business was not.

So when Holmes became chief executive and president of the now 120-year-old company in 1995, he made it his mission to ensure that those little blue and white boxes wouldn’t vanish from store shelves.

He had a plan to move the well-known — but stagnant — business into the 21st Century, even as it went up against competitors like Pillsbury and General Mills. “It was an evolution — not revolution — from a sole proprietorship to professional management,” said Holmes, 60, who raced cars for 20 years before returning to the family business in Chelsea.

“It was hardest for the people. It wasn’t natural for them.” His to-do list was long.

He set out to boost efficiency. He increased factory floor space, rolled out new packaging assembly lines, upgraded equipment and hired workers with experience in finance, food sales and production. He called frequent staff meetings.

The effort paid off: On average, Chelsea Milling produces 950,000 retail boxes per day, up from 425,000 boxes per day 10 years ago.

“Efficiency is an internal measurement,” Holmes said recently. “You have to be efficient before you’re effective.” Just as he did more than a decade ago, Holmes is embarking on yet another evolution.

In addition to its mixes, Chelsea Milling is branching out, providing products to prisons, food services and private labels. It is also exporting products to 28 countries. To support its growth, the company recently added 20 full-time employees this year, bringing its total staff to 350.

Jiffy’s 21 mixes, which include blueberry muffin, fudge brownie, pie crust and multipurpose baking mixes, make up 67% of the market for value mixes, Holmes said.

But, unlike competitors — which often have multimillion-dollar advertising budgets — Jiffy doesn’t use TV commercials or ads to sell its goods.

“We have a reputation,” said Holmes, who grew up in the Chelsea mill and is the fourth generation of the Holmes family to run the business. “We rely on word-of-mouth, which is really the best advertising available. But it’s risky because we need to provide a consistent product.”

Jiffy mixes — which cost $1 or less — are 28% to 53% cheaper per ounce than competitors’ products. Holmes said the company has kept prices low by doing minimal advertising and making its products in-house. Only its iconic boxes are made off-site — by its own print business, CNS, in Marshall.

“Eighty-nine percent of items in the baking aisle are value products,” Holmes said. “It tells you something. People appreciate value.”

Still, the firm has challenges. Jiffy has struggled since the early 1990s as consumers have opted for fast food and other convenience items instead of cooking at home.

In recent months, the company has battled the rising cost of flour as wheat prices neared a 10-year high in the spring. “Since 1991, retail sales have been flat to declining,” he said. “We’ve spent 67 years as a retail company, but the future’s not in home baking.”

Holmes said Chelsea Milling posted 2007 sales of about $87 million, which included retail and private-label sales. That compares with sales of about $90 million in 2002, which only included retail sales.

Holmes said the privately-held company’s projected sales for 2008 will be close to $100 million. That will include retail and private-label sales as well as its newer divisions such as institutional, food service and export sales.

“Providing to institutions as an alternative strategy to the consumer is a great idea,” said Michael Bernacchi, professor of marketing at the University of Detroit Mercy. “You might not be able to get nose to nose with customers, but you can do that with institutions. They may even do better and succeed in a stronger way.”

Holmes said the sagging economy may actually help the business. Lower incomes could force consumers to start cooking at home again.

“It’s very expensive to go out. Cooking at home is definitely less expensive. The mixes are quick and easy to put together for the family, and portions are reasonable,” said Mary Pilon, 71, of Canton, who has been using Jiffy for 30 years.

“Every time there’s an economic slowdown or there’s the R-word, retail sales go up,” Holmes said. “Eating out is more convenient, but it costs more per bite than buying products in the grocery store and cooking yourself.”

For now, the 20-year Indy race car driver cautions that slow and steady wins the race. “Managing growth is the most difficult thing to do. What’s best for the long term is to penetrate the market at a slow but sure pace,” Holmes said. “We like to under-commit and over-perform.”

“Jiffy Mix” book hot off the presses

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Originally posted by: The Chelsea Standard — July 10, 2008

By Janet Ogle-Mater

Special Writer

Howard S. “Howdy” Holmes Jr. will be the guest speaker at the upcoming Chelsea Area Historical Society’s Dinner and Lecture fund-raiser.

Holmes will talk about his successful 20-year racing career and about the Chelsea Milling Company, the more than century-old family business of which he is president and CEO.

Holmes will also be sharing aspects, and signing copies, of the new book, “JIFFY: A Family Tradition, Mixing Business and Old-Fashioned Values,” by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds.

The book explores the early years of the mill, the beginnings of Jiffy baking mixes, and the changes that have taken the company into the 21st century. Through it all, four generations of Holmes family history is revealed.

“I wanted to honor my family before me and I felt a need to record our history,” said Howdy. “It has been a heartwarming experience for me.”

The idea for the book began in 1990, but was put on hold for several years after the unexpected death of the original author, Joseph Clayton.

“In 2001, I was moved to start the project again after the death of my father and the release of Reynolds’ book, ’Our Hometown,’” Holmes recalled.

The inside jacket of the book reads like a recipe with ingredients including such attributes as courage, consideration, consistency, values, respect, and honor. It is easy to see how this mix of ingredients has combined to make a successful family-owned business for four generations.

Chelsea Milling was founded in 1887 by E.K. White and incorporated in 1901. Harmon S. Holmes, a Chelsea businessman with a number of flourishing ventures, including H.S. Holmes Mercantile, bought the mill in 1908.

Early on he turned the management of the mill over to his son, Howard, who would marry E.K. White’s daughter Mabel in 1912. Mabel White Holmes went on to create Jiffy Baking Mix in 1930. Then, tragedy struck the family when Howard Samuel Holmes fell to his death from a grain elevator inside a silo in 1936.

Mabel and her 23-year-old twin sons, Howard and Dudley Holmes, took over running the company. In 1940, Howard Sumner Holmes became president, a position he held for 55 years. “He never planned on being in the family business, but he did what he had to do, and without complaints,” Howdy said of his father.

Unlike his father, Howdy knew he wanted to be in the family business. “I grew up in the mill; I’ve done every job in the place at least once,” he said.

But before joining the team at Jiffy, he was given the freedom and encouragement to pursue his childhood dream of auto racing.

Holmes had a successful career, competing in six Indy 500 events and claiming “Rookie of the Year” in 1979. He also gained a wealth of experience in business management, marketing, and public relations.

He brought this business experience back to Chelsea Milling in 1987, and has been President and CEO since his father retired in 1995.

“When I returned, I saw a great brand, and principles, but knew there had to be some changes.”

Howdy began to the move the company away from a proprietorship and toward a professionally managed company. He also invested more into the employees and invited their collaboration.

“When you ask someone their opinion, you get different feedback from your own and you learn new things,” Holmes said. “My management system is not too complicated treat people the way you would like to be treated.”

Howdy left unchanged the basic principles on which the company was founded, including a commitment to quality and value for a fair price.

“Our choice is to give consumers the best value,” Holmes said. “We define ’value’ as being the highest-quality ingredients at the best price.”

One way they keep their prices low is not to spend money on advertising. In the nearly 80 years since the brand was founded, the company has never advertised. It prefers to rely on consumer loyalty to the little blue-and-white box for quality and value.

It seems to be working: Chelsea Milling produces 1.6 million boxes of Jiffy mixes each day during the peak winter season, Holmes said, and claims 57 percent of the nation’s total muffin mix market share. Its corn muffin mix, introduced in 1950, continues to be its top seller.

To hear more about the Chelsea Milling Company and the new book, join the Chelsea Area Historical Society at 7 p.m. July 18 at Silver Maples of Chelsea.

Tickets are $30 per person or $50 for a ticket and copy of the book, and on sale at the Gourmet Chocolate Café, 312 N. Main St.

History in a “Jiffy”

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Originally posted by: The Chelsea Standard — July 3, 2008

by Janet Ogle-Mater

Special Writer

Holmes gears up to headline CAHS dinner, lecture

Chelsea Milling Co. President Howard S. Holmes Jr., better known as “Howdy,” will be the honored guest speaker at a dinner and lecture fundraiser for the Chelsea Area Historical Society on July 18.

Holmes will talk about his successful 20-year racing career and his family’s more than 100-year-old business, Chelsea Milling Company. Holmes is the fourth generation of his family who has presided as President and CEO over Chelsea Milling Company, known to most as Jiffy Mix. However, Chelsea Milling is not his first career.

From the late 1960s until 1988, he raced all over the world, including in six Indianapolis 500s.

“I was about 16 years old when I announced I was going to be a race car driver,” reminisced Howdy, now 60. “My father had a friend whose uncle got us tickets to the Indy 500 in 1957, and it started an annual tradition. “It’s a real American event with lights, fast cars, and over 400,000 in attendance. I suppose any young man exposed to it for a few years would want to race.”

Unlike other young men, though, Holmes went after his dream by enrolling in the newly opened Michigan International Speedway School of High Performance Driving in 1968. “I was one of 13 who enrolled in that first class,” Holmes recalled. “I drove a Formula Ford and that was it — I knew I had to do this. I finished 13th.”

Undaunted, with no formal background in racing Holmes put together a homemade trailer, bought some tools, and assembled a Formula Ford race car. “I bought a manual for my engine at an Ann Arbor bookstore. It took me 19 hours to take apart and put back together that engine,” Holmes recalled. “I think a real mechanic could have done it in about six. But I just figured things out by doing it and making mistakes.”

That philosophy, along with his unwavering desire and determination, seem to have worked for Holmes. He completed 19 races of 21 starts in 1971, which was his first year of racing.

“My pit crew were my buddies from school,” he chuckled. He was named Sports Car Club of America Central Division Champion in 1972 and 1973. He placed fifth in the International Formula Ford Series in 1974, and in 1978 won the series title, North American Formula Atlantic Champion.

In 1979, Howdy started in his first Indy 500 and finished in seventh place. He also captured the honor of “Rookie of the Year.” Naturally, his family was in the stands. “They were thrilled. We still have the tickets from that year,” said Holmes.

Howdy went on to compete in five more Indy 500s between 1982 and 1988, and placed in the top 10 four times. He compiled the best average finishing record of any Indy 500 driver who started in more than four events. “I was 32 years old when I won ‘Rookie of the Year;’ an old man in a young person’s sport. I was 41 years old at my last race, then I was considered a really old man,” he laughed.

The racing was only part of his impact on the world of motorsports. Holmes also founded marketing and advertising companies that served racing enthusiasts for 18 years. Furthermore, he authored an award-winning book, “Formula Car Technology,” and was a contributing writer for a number of newspapers and racing magazines.

Holmes was also a racing commentator for ESPN. With such a successful and varied racing career, it’s difficult for Holmes to single out just one fond memory of his racing days. “Every day for 20 years I was lucky enough to do something I was passionate about,” he said. “Everyday was a blessing.” When pressed, he acknowledged 1988 as a particularly good year. “It was the year of my last race and the birth of my son.” It is his 1988 Indy 500 ring that he proudly wears today.

Howdy continues the family tradition of going to the Indy 500. For years he has shared the day with members of his business “family” from the Chelsea Milling Co. His son, 19, joined him in the pits last year. “He didn’t want to go when he had to sit in the stands, but at 18, he could get into the pits. It was great fun to share this experience with him,” said Holmes. To hear more of Howdy Holmes’ racing career, join the Chelsea Area Historical Society at 7 p.m. July 18 at Silver Maples of Chelsea. Tickets are $30 and on sale at the Gourmet Chocolate Cafe.

“Jiffy” Mix is Michigan success story

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Originally posted by: The Morning Sun — June 2, 2008

by Dick Bolton

Fretting about gasoline prices and the rising cost of everything else one morning last week, I was overtaken by pangs of hunger. That sparked some curiosity, and sure enough, within minutes several Internet sources had confirmed that stress can, indeed, induce the urge to eat. But you probably knew that already.

What happened next was a visit to the pantry in search of a goody. And what did I find? Well, I must say it was a great stress reliever, packaged in a small, blue, white and red box, labeled “’JIFFY’ corn muffin mix.”

Within the hour I had a batch of hot cornbread – johnnycake, we used to call it – on the table to very nicely quell the hunger pangs. But the real stress reliever was that little package.

And more particularly, it was the price label: “36 cents.” Toss in the required egg and a third of a cup of milk, and my whole eight-inch diameter johnnycake had cost less than a little regular from Mickey D’s. Of course, I haven’t added in the value of my own labor here. Is that fudging things a little?

Anyway, my johnnycake tasted better and was a lot more satisfying than fare from a fast food place, too. All that got me to thinking.

You know, I remember seeing the “Jiffy” brand corn muffin mix as long as I’ve shopped for groceries in Michigan. It always has seemed like a rare bargain, too. In the back of my mind, there was the sense it was some kind of a local – or at least regional – product.

Well, last week’s study of that little box informed me that “Jiffy” mix is a product of the Chelsea Milling Company of Chelsea, Mich., down by Ann Arbor. Regional inkling confirmed.

And that, of course, inspired yet another visit to the Internet. Sure enough, the Chelsea Milling Company has its very own Web site. Turns out, the company claims to have been around as a family business in Chelsea for 120 years.

It also produces 20 other cake, piecrust dough, pizza dough, muffin, pancake, biscuit and frosting mixes, in addition to the corn muffin offering. All are offered up at very reasonable prices. And it’s not just a regional outfit. Chelsea Milling’s “Jiffy” products are sold in all 50 of the United States, and make it to some foreign countries through the U.S. military.

According to the company Web site, “Chelsea Milling Company is a complete manufacturer. We store wheat. We mill wheat into flour. We use that flour for own mixes. We make our own ’little blue’ boxes. We do it all…,” right there in Chelsea.

But I especially like the next part of that spiel, which says, “…that’s why our mixes provide you with the best possible value. Value is using the highest quality ingredients and the best price!”

If personal experience with the “Jiffy” mixes is any indicator, I’ve seldom read words in a company’s own description of itself and its products that ring more true than the latter. The price certainly is low, and the products are good.

The company boasts quite openly about that “best price” business on a Web page showing how relatively little is spent on marketing the “Jiffy” products. A straightforward graphic shows that while all producers bear the cost of ingredients, labor and packaging, the “Jiffy” brand foregoes costly advertising, merchandising, and coupon offers, which Chelsea Milling labels, “extra costs to you.”

Instead, the company relies on brand recognition by loyal customers who have come to appreciate its quality-price-value equation. Word of mouth certainly helps. The internet seems to give “Jiffy products a boost, too. Running a search using key words “Jiffy corn muffin mix” produced “about 33,400” hits as reported by Google.

Other “Jiffy” not-so-trivial lore I discovered is that Chelsea Milling lays claims to having been first to manufacture and market a baking mix of any kind, starting in 1930. Credit for originating the product is given to Mabel White Holmes, whose husband, Howard, once upon a time ran the family-owned business.

Mabel must have been quite a feisty and formidable lady. “Jiffy” mix lore has it that she was fond of saying, “It’s so easy even a man could do it.” We guess she was referring to baking with her concoction.

But it must be noted also that after her husband died in a 1936 mill accident, Mabel stepped in as company president for a few years. Her sons took over the operation in 1940. Today, her grandson, Howard “Howdy” Holmes runs the show.

Back to personal experience, I’d say using the “Jiffy” mixes definitely is easy enough for this man to do it. I just follow the directions. The results are yummy, and a good stress relieving bargain all around.

Dick Bolton is a Morning sun columnist. Send bouquets or brickbats by e-mail to dbolton@michigan-newspapers.com or snail mail in care of the Morning Sun. Telephone messages can be left at 989-779-6055.