By Matt Clevenger
For Miami Valley Today
TIPP CITY — A local landmark for 95 years, the Tip-Top Canning Company is planning to close permanently sometime this summer or fall.
“We are closing,” company vice president Matt Timmer said. “The 2019 pack was our last fresh tomato pack.”
Tip-Top Canning Company produces a full line of canned tomato products, ranging from tomato sauce to ketchup. The company currently employs 20 people at two different locations in Tipp City.
“We don’t do a whole lot of the Tip-Top brand,” Timmer said. “We’re private label, which means we put the grocery store label on our cans, so unless you’re able to read the code on top of the can, you’d never know.”
“We have two locations,” he said. “The plant on First Street is the original, and at the end of Second Street is our warehouse.”
The cannery’s closing was brought on by bad weather during last year’s tomato planting season.
“We had the wettest planting season in history,” Timmer said, “so we didn’t get the crop in. Usually we’re done planting by June 10. We basically started planting on June 10 this year, and just didn’t get enough tomatoes planted to produce enough cases in the fall.”
The company will stay open through this summer.
“We still have cases in the warehouse,” Timmer said. “We did get some cases produced, so we are still labeling and shipping.
“We’re still shipping until summer,” he said. “They are going quick, but there are still products on the shelf. When they’re gone they’re gone.”
In addition to private label products, Tip-Top also produces many items that are sold to local restaurants.
“Local restaurants, we’re still selling to them,” Timmer said. “There’s quite a few restaurants buying our products. We were at Foodtown here in Tipp City when that was open; there was a decent selection there. But otherwise it’s hard to find really close.”
Originally started in 1924, the cannery is still a family-owned business.
“We were in our fifth generation,” Timmer said. “We’ve been here quite awhile.
“This is sad,” he said, “and it’s emotional for us, but it’s an accomplishment to make it for 95 years running a small, family-owned tomato cannery.
“Originally, everything was brought in by horse,” he said. “Even until the 1990s we grew all of our own tomatoes locally. Then we split out into Lima, Findlay and a little bit in Indiana; we spread our growers out some.”
There are no plans for the cannery’s buildings yet, although there will be an auction held to sell the company’s canning equipment.
“As an ongoing tomato cannery, we don’t think that’s realistic,” Timmer said. “We will have an auction to sell the equipment and when we’re done with the buildings we’ll put them up for sale. But there’s nothing in the works right now to keep it going as a tomato cannery.”
A fourth-generation cannery worker himself, Timmer said he doesn’t have any solid plans for what he will do after the cannery closes.
“I don’t know,” he said. “This is what we’ve always done; I grew up in it.
“For now, we’ve still got some work to do here,” he said. “It’s been 95 years, and we’ve had some exceptional employees. We need to mention that we’ve had a lot of help to make it this far. We’ve had people who were with us for decades. It’s a tomato cannery; it’s not an easy job, it’s hard work, and we appreciate the people who have helped us.”