HISTORY OF WERNER LEHARA
The Werner Lehara business at Grand Rapids, Michigan began in 1904 as the Dutch Cookie Machine Co. and cookies have been a consistent theme of the company's activities.
The name was changed in 1940 to the Werner Machinery Co. to help gain orders for war material, and until 1945 pumps were made for landing barges. Production activity switched back to food equipment after the war, and in 1970 the Werner family acquired the Lehara Corporation - a sales company in New York, that had been Werner's sales agents, both internationally and in New England/New York. The name changed to Werner Lehara, which remained based in Grand Rapids providing equipment for biscuit and cookie production.
Werner Lehara was acquired by Baker Perkins in July 1978 for $4.35m in cash. 1977 sales were in excess of $9.4m and net pre-tax profits were $959,000.
In 1982, Werner Lehara acquired the manufacturing rights and patent licences for the range of pretzel extruders made by the Unex company, the market leaders for this equipment in the USA. Added to Werner Lehara's existing broad range of pretzel equipment, this allowed the company to design, engineer and manufacture complete production lines – mixing, extruding, proofing, baking and drying – for both hard and soft pretzels.
The East Coast Sales Office of Werner Lehara was closed in January 1986. A small office was retained in East Brunswick, New Jersey to handle import clearances.
The Grand Rapids operation re-located to new premises in 2002. These incorporated a pilot plant for customer product development and trials.
Werner Lehara remains part of Baker Perkins to date.
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