'Hartville Potato Chips' is a new brand with a familiar taste

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - When entrepreneurial brothers Paul and Anthony Laguardia were looking for a venture it just seemed inevitable that a potato chip company might happen.

After all, it runs in the family. Cousin Ted Robb is the former owner of "OK Potato Chips" from 1970 to 1991.

In 1991 Robb sold the Akron-area business.

But, it was when he listed the equipment for sale that he accidentally launched a new career.

The chip maker sold his equipment to a company in Monterrey, Mexico.

Robb traveled to Mexico to help set up the equipment and as they say, the rest is history.

"I've been to South America, Central America, China, Europe almost every continent," Robb said.

Thirty-three countries later Robb is back in Akron helping the Laguardia brothers get their potato chip business, Hartville Potato Chips, off the ground.

Paul Laguardia recalled his cousin's business and remembered you could go into "OK" and buy chips in the can.

"If we bring that unique flavor back, people will gravitate toward it," Laguardia said.

The brothers went to work trying to recreate the kettle cooked flavor.

"It took a lot of trial and error, in two years we tried 50-60 different oils," Laguardia said.

Two years later the company is up and running.

"We want people to be able to come in, see where the potato chips are being made and buy hot fresh potato chips," Laguardia said.

A Dutch door divides the lobby from the factory floor allowing customers to watch the chips being made and bagged.

Customers can purchase the warm chips right at the Akron location.

The "OK" name is now owned by a different company so naming the company was the next step.

Robb had experimented with a Hartville brand years ago and the brothers liked it.

"There's a quality associated with the Hartville name," Laguardia said. "We thought it represented a local feel."

Robb, who laughingly joked he was "having nightmares" about starting another company said he didn't have the energy to start over.

"I kinda was retired," Robb hinted, but "they have the energy."

Hartville Chips is located at 1064 Grant St. in Akron, Ohio.

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