James S. Herr, founder of Herr’s Snack Foods, has passed away at the age of 87. Former state Rep. Art Hershey of Cochranville, a friend of Herr, told NBC10 Herr passed away Thursday night at his home in Nottingham, Chester County. Hershey also told the Daily Local Herr contracted pneumonia last summer which developed into a more severe form shortly after Christmas and took a turn for the worse on Thursday. Herr died with his family by his side, according to Hershey.
Herr was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in August of 1924. In 1946, he invested in a small Lancaster potato chip company which averaged $30 a week in sales at the time, according to the Herr’s website. By 1999, the company grew into a business with sales of over $100 million a year. Herr’s produced and marketed 240 snacks. The company, which owns a factory in Nottingham, is currently the third largest chip company in America.
Herr earned numerous accomplishments during his career in business. The Small Business Administration named him Outstanding Pennsylvania Businessman of the Year in 1969. He was also named the Businessman of the Year by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business back in 1997.
Herr served on the board of directors of the Worldwide Economic Development Team for five years where he worked with aspiring African entrepreneurs, according to the company website. He also served as the International President of the Potato Chip and Snack Food Association in 1979 and was welcomed by the association into its Circle of Honor in 1997.
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Outside of business, Herr frequently gave back to the Chester County community. The company website states he served as director of the Chester County Development Council. He was also the Building Campaign Chair for the Southern Chester County Health Services Medical Center, a member of the Oxford Area School Board for 12 years and president of the School Board for five. Finally, the website states he held a seat on the Chester County Board of School Directors.
Herr was known as an advocate for small business and was even considered by President Ronald Reagan when he was selecting the head of his small business administration, according to Hershey. Herr was elected to the board of the National Federation of Independent Business back in 1972, according to the company website.
Herr turned the Chairmanship of his company over to his son back in 2005 and retained the title of Founder. He is survived by his wife Miriam Hershey who he married in 1947. The couple moved to Nottingham back in 1951 where they raised five children. He is also survived by 20 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.