Ansted’s Blue Smoke Salsa teams with Virginia company for broade - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Ansted WV’s Blue Smoke Salsa teams with Virginia company for broader distribution

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Fans of Blue Smoke Salsa in Ansted prepared to say goodbye to the local brand in 2011, but a new agreement may create even more fans near and far.

Its founder, president and majority owner, Robin Hildebrand Hannigan, announced the business would close that year, but an outpouring of support spurred her to continue selling her products.

And this week, Hildebrand Hannigan announced her company had acquired a "big brother" to keep it alive and broaden its distribution.

"After years of facing one challenge after another, Robin has finally turned this challenge into opportunity," reads a news release from Blue Smoke Salsa.

The assets of Blue Smoke Salsa will be sold to White House Foods, owned by the Gum family in Winchester, Va., according to the news release.

Hildebrand Hannigan, the 12th child in a family of 14, created the salsa in her own kitchen with vegetables from her own backyard garden, and it helped her to stay at home to raise her three sons.

Hildebrand Hannigan recently represented West Virginia manufacturing and entrepreneurs at the Greater Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce convention at the Greenbrier Resort last month.

"The face of Blue Smoke Salsa and current manufacturing will remain in Ansted, W.Va.," White House Foods Chief Operating Officer Tim Proctor said in a news release. "The operations will be managed by the White House operating team."

White House Foods plans to introduce new packaging units in its facility to broaden distribution and product lines.

David Gum said the deal should close in fewer than 45 days, according to the news release, and Hildebrand Hannigan will remain president of Blue Smoke Salsa operations.