HISTORY OF BAKER PERKINS IN NORTH AMERICA

A vital market

North America could be said to be the home of Baker Perkins in that both Founders of the company – Jacob Perkins and Joseph Baker - crossed the Atlantic in the 19th century to start up businesses in England.

The first ‘Baker’ company on the North American continent was Joseph Baker’s Ltd, Brantford, Ontario, Canada, the original company set up in 1870 to produce the patented flour scoop/sifter. (See How it Started). The company was liquidated in 1919 after being sold to Joseph Baker Sons & Perkins (Canada) Ltd. It was renamed Canadian Baker Perkins in 1923 and in 1930 became a subsidiary of Baker Perkins Inc. Just before WW2 the headquarters of the company was transferred from Brantford, Ontario to Brampton, Toronto.

(PLEASE NOTE: Brampton is in the Greater Toronto Area, less than 20 miles from the City centre, whilst  Brantford is situated approximately 56 miles to the south-west of Toronto).

Herman Werner of Werner & Pfleiderer, Germany (See Werner & Pfleiderer (London) Ltd), had established a factory in Saginaw, Michigan, USA just before WW1 and in 1919, the newly formed Joseph Baker Sons & Perkins was given the opportunity to purchase it. Allan R. Baker had hoped to develop closer ties with the Otis Elevator Company – who were manufacturing machinery for Baker customers in America during the war years – but now saw that it would be more to Baker’s advantage to have their own factory in the USA. So began the development of Baker Perkins Inc, Saginaw, one of the most important manufacturing operations in the Baker Perkins Group with a sales organisation operating out of White Plains, NY,

Baker Perkins Manufacturing Co. Inc. was set up in 1919 to purchase and then to operate the ex-Werner & Pfleiderer Co’s factory in Saginaw, Michigan. The greater part of the Common Stock was held by Joseph Baker Sons & Co. Inc.

List of Acquisitions made, Associations formed or Companies created in the region

1870 - Joseph Baker’s Ltd, Brantford (See also History of Joseph Baker & Sons Ltd).
1919 - Baker Perkins Manufacturing Co. Inc
1920 - Baker Perkins Inc, Saginaw (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Chemical Business).
1923 - Canadian Baker Perkins
1929 - National Bread Wrapping Co. Inc. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Packaging Business).
1929 - Package Co. Inc. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Packaging Business).
1956 - Read Standard Corp. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Bakery Business).
1958 - Petersen Oven Co. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Bakery Business).
1967 - Wood Newspaper Machinery Corp. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Printing Business).
1967 - Podbielniak Division, Dresser Industries. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Chemical Business).
1970 - Marco Co. Inc. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Chemical Business).
1973 - Baker Perkins Foundry Machinery Corp. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Foundry Business).
1973 - United States Centrifuge Co. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Chemical Business).
1976 - Baker Perkins North America Inc.
1978 - Werner Lehara. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Biscuit Business).
1980 - Pavailler Machinery Sales Inc. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Bakery Business).
1980 - Pavailler Canada Inc. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Bakery Business).
1981 - Rose Forgrove Inc. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Packaging Business).
1982 - Baker Perkins FES Inc. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Biscuit Business).
1982 - Baker Perkins Food Machinery Inc. (See also History of Saginaw).
1985 - Stickelber & Sons (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Bakery Business).
1985 - Baker Perkins PMC Inc (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Printing Business).
1986 - Sterling Extruder Corp. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Chemical Business).
1989 - Lanham Machinery Co. Inc. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Bakery Business).

At the beginning of WW2 there had been concern that American investments like the Saginaw factory, might have to be realised at a sacrifice in accordance with the UK Government’s plan to pay for munitions from America. This, fortunately, did not occur as, under the Financial Powers (USA Securities) Regulations, 1941, such investments were taken over and deposited by H.M. Government as security for a loan made to it by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

The small Brampton, Ontario factory of Canadian Baker Perkins was closed in September 1975 but the company was retained as a sales and service organisation. In 1976, a small factory owned by Baker Perkins Inc. in Houston Texas, was also closed.

Developing a presence in the Marketplace

Herman Werner of Werner & Pfleiderer, Germany (See Werner & Pfleiderer (London) Ltd), had established a factory in Saginaw, Michigan, USA just before WW1 and in 1919, the newly formed Joseph Baker Sons & Perkins was given the opportunity to purchase it. Allan R. Baker had hoped to develop closer ties with the Otis Elevator Company – who were manufacturing machinery for Baker customers in America during the war years – but now saw that it would be more to Baker’s advantage to have their own factory in the USA. So began the development of Baker Perkins Inc, Saginaw, which with a sales organisation operating out of White Plains, NY, was to become one of the most important manufacturing operations in the Baker Perkins Group.

Baker Perkins Manufacturing Co. Inc. was set up in 1919 to purchase and then to operate the factory in Saginaw. The greater part of the Common Stock was held by Joseph Baker Sons & Co. Inc.

The Saginaw factory was key to Baker Perkins’ penetration of the world market for chemical and plastics machinery. It was here that much of the primary development work on this equipment, later to be further developed by the Baker Perkins’ factories in England to suit their local markets, was carried out. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Chemical Business).

Bakery machinery was another important component of Saginaw’s output and they held a prominent position in their home market. However, sales of Saginaw-design bakery equipment to other geographical markets, particularly in Europe, were limited by the lack of demand for the unique style of American bread. (Further information on Saginaw’s fortunes in bakery machinery will appear here, and in History of Baker Perkins in the Bakery Business later).

Between the Wars

Strengthening the Foundations of the Bakery Business

Business was good following the end of WW1 and bakery machinery orders were, by 1929, at an all time high. At the peak of the American boom, Baker Perkins Co. Inc. bought the whole of the assets of the Century Machine Company of Cincinnati, a manufacturer of bakery equipment for the smaller wholesale baker. However, the USA plunged into depression immediately afterwards because of the Wall Street crash. The fortunes of the company had, however, improved significantly by the end of 1933.

Chemical Machinery

Between the wars, Saginaw marketed a full range of batch and continuous mixers for the production of a wide range of products for the chemical and allied industries, in the main developed for the original Werner & Pfleiderer “Universal” Mixer. (See also History of Werner & Pfleiderer (London). Ltd. and History of Baker Perkins in the Chemical Business).

Building a Packaging Machinery Business

Much of the Group’s packaging technology emanated from its connections with North American companies and well into the 1970s, a significant proportion of Rose Forgrove’s turnover came from machines designed originally in the USA. By 1929, the National Bread Wrapping Company's bread-wrapping machines were considered the best on the American market. Taking advantage of its owner's wish to retire, Baker Perkins Co. Inc. purchased 60% of its shares; the remaining shares being held by the Package Machinery Company.

Baker Perkins had suggested to the Package Machinery Company that it would be their mutual advantage if Baker Perkins were appointed selling agents for Package machines in Britain. Thus, Forgrove, of which Baker Perkins had acquired around one-third of the equity, were also able to enter into a reciprocal trade agreement with Package.

War Work – World War Two

At the beginning of WW2, a large proportion of the factory turned to war work, with large orders for mixing equipment for smokeless powder and cordite. Early in 1941, horizontal boring-mills were being manufactured. Saginaw also produced foundry castings for service equipment and fabricated hull sections for destroyers.

During WW2, Century developed a portable field bakery. The company was given the Army/Navy Award for its success in manufacturing thousands of these for all of the theatres of war where American troops were serving. (See also Westwood Works in WW1 and Westwood Works in WW2)

At the beginning of WW2, there had been concern that American investments like the Saginaw factory, might have to be realised at a sacrifice in accordance with the UK Government’s plan to pay for munitions from America. This, fortunately, did not occur as, under the Financial Powers (USA Securities) Regulations, 1941, such investments were taken over and deposited by H.M. Government as security for a loan made to it by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

THE POST-WW2 GROWTH PERIOD

Bakery – (See Strengthening the Foundations of the Bakery Business above).

(See also History of Saginaw and History of Baker Perkins in the Bakery Business)

It was clear that, by 1955, two types of business were developing in North America – the small retail bakery selling products on its own premises and the large-volume wholesale bakery requiring 200 loaves a minute from each line of plant. Baker Perkins Inc considered that the Century Machine Company's product - aimed at the diminishing, medium-sized machinery sector - was being squeezed between the two and it was decided to liquidate the Century Company in that same year.
In 1958, Baker Perkins Inc acquired the Petersen Oven Company, a successful manufacturer of unit ovens, which experienced problems attempting to launch out into the design and manufacture of complete automatic bakery plant. Financial difficulties forced the company to approach Baker Perkins, a merger was arranged and all the designs; key personnel and manufacturing were moved into Baker Perkins’ factory at Saginaw.

A manufacturer of both bakery and chemical machinery - the Read Standard Division of Capitol Products Corporation - was liquidated in 1963 and Baker Perkins took over its stock and service obligations.

Baker Perkins acquired, in March 1980, Pavailler SA, producer of a range of machinery and ovens for small 'artisan' bakeries. – designed and manufactured in France and Italy –and specialising in the production of French bread, particularly the "baguette" - Pavailler SA had two North American subsidiaries – Pavailler Machinery Sales Inc. and Pavailler Canada.

At the end of the 70's, Saginaw had two divisions – food machinery and chemical machinery. Both were seen as major growth opportunities but the bakery business was suffering from the increasingly high costs of manufacture in the Saginaw area, dominated as it was by the Detroit automobile industry. Plans were announced in 1981 for a new $8m.factory for food machinery in Goldsboro N.C. The existing food machinery business was to be transferred from Saginaw, leaving it free to concentrate on chemical machinery and In autumn 1982, the new factory – set up to produce the food machinery – high-speed automated bread baking systems and twin-screw cooker extruders - previously made at Saginaw - was opened in West Ash Street, Goldsboro, N. Carolina, the offices for which were located in nearby Raleigh, N.C. From 1st April 1985, Baker Perkins Inc. was split into two companies and the food machinery operations at Raleigh and Goldsboro, together with those of Canadian Baker Perkins, became Baker Perkins Food Machinery Inc.

The twin-screw food extrusion machinery business moved, with the rest of the food division, from Saginaw to Poplarwood Ct., Raleigh, N.C. in 1982. In the following year, the offices and laboratories of the staff concerned with food extrusion systems were relocated to new premises in North Boulevard, Raleigh.

In summer 1985, Baker Perkins Food Machinery Inc. entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of Stickelber & Son, Inc. of Kansas City, USA, a leading supplier of bread moulding equipment complementary to the range of industrial bakery machinery marketed by Baker Perkins Food Machinery Inc. in the USA.

Baker Perkins acquired the Lanham Machinery Inc, Atlanta bakery machinery business in 1989.

Biscuit

A stronger foothold in the North American cookie market, and the opportunity to market that technology in Baker Perkins Ltd's own markets, came with the acquisition in December 1978 of Werner Lehara, Grand Rapids, USA. (See also History of Werner Lehara and History of Baker Perkins in the Biscuit Business). 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.

On April 1st 1986, Baker Perkins FES Inc, moved out of Raleigh and re-located to Grand Rapids, Michigan, close to the Werner Lehara facility.

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 the new Baker Perkins Group.

Chemical – (See Chemical Machinery above).

As stated above, chemical machinery was seen as a major growth opportunity and significant investment continued to be made to extend Saginaw’s capabilities and product range.

The Podbielniak Division of Dresser Industries, USA, manufacturers of a unique liquid/liquid separating centrifuge, merged with the chemical division of Baker Perkins Inc., Saginaw in November 1967. Soon after, Baker Perkins Inc purchased Marco, a pump company that manufactured a product called the Rotofeed of which many were manufactured at Saginaw. In January 1973, The United States Centrifuge Co. of Houston Texas, manufacturers of solid bowl centrifuges was acquired. The factory was closed in 1976.

Acquired by Baker Perkins North America Inc. in April 1986, Sterling Extruder Corporation, New Jersey manufactured and sold blown film, blow moulding, sheet and compounding equipment for the plastics industry, together with wire and cable coating systems, a product range that complimented that of Baker Perkins. Sterling had factories in South Plainfield, New Jersey, in Edison, New Jersey and at Wallingford, Connecticut.

In October 1986, the Baker Perkins Polymer Machinery Division relocated from Saginaw and was merged to become a division of Sterling Extruder Corporation in New Jersey. The marketing, engineering, manufacturing and laboratory functions were transferred to Sterling's facilities at South Plainfield. The Customer Demonstration Centre followed shortly afterwards.

Foundry

In 1973, things were going well for the foundry department and a new company, Baker Perkins Foundry Machinery Corp., was formed in Elmhurst, Illinois to promote the sale and servicing in North America of foundry machinery made by Baker Perkins Ltd. (See also Baker Perkins in the Foundry Business).

The business relocated to 410 East 10th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania in 1976, where mixers were assembled, spare parts were held, together with a stock of machines for sales in USA, Canada and Mexico.

Laundry

The USA was not only a key market but also the home of Jaxons' most serious competition. Despite this, Baker Perkins Jaxons Ltd had installed 30 coat presses in the USA by 1968 and more were on order. (See also Baker Perkins in the Laundry Business).

Packaging – (See Building a Packaging Machinery Business above).

The National Bread Wrapping Co. continued to develop new products and the designs for their 'National' wrapping machine were passed on to Forgrove in 1949. Forgrove produced its 2,500th 'National' BW wrapping machine from its Seacroft factory in 1965.

Baker Perkins took the decision in 1955 to sell the company's interest in the National Bread Wrapping Company and Baker Perkins Inc. sold their interest to their co-owner, the Package Machinery Company, in return for shares in Package, a share of the Forgrove royalties and an agreement that they could continue to sell the machines to the bakery industry.
North America had always been a valuable market for Rose Forgrove, having supplied around 2000 packaging machines prior to opening its new subsidiary – Rose Forgrove Inc – in Elmhurst, Illinois in 1981.

Printing

By the end of the 60’s, it had become clear that penetration of the key North American market would require the support of a local sales and service operation. Baker Perkins Printing Machinery Corporation was formed and a site in Elmhurst, Illinois, just south of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, was chosen to take advantage of the business environment created by the huge industrial area alongside Lake Michigan where some of the biggest printers in the USA are located. (See also History of Baker Perkins in the Printing Business)

In 1967, Baker Perkins Ltd signed an agreement with Wood Newspaper Machinery Corporation of New Jersey which allowed the manufacture of and sale of rotary letterpress newspaper printing presses and folders in the UK, most of Europe, Africa and the British Commonwealth.

By 1983, the burgeoning success of the G16 press in the North American market, beating very strong USA-based competition, had lifted Baker Perkins to the position of market leader and the Elmhurst premises were outgrown. A two-acre site was found in Barrington, Illinois. Even this proved insufficient to match the growth of the Printing machinery business in North America and, in 1985, larger premises were built at Schaumburg, Illinois, 12 miles from O’Hare, on a four-acre site. Plans were also in hand to set up sales and service centres in Toronto, Canada and Dallas, Texas.

THE CLOSING YEARS

Following the merger of Baker Perkins Holdings and APV in 1987 there was an increased concentration on the food and drink machinery activities of the new business with chemical machinery assuming somewhat less importance. The loss-making factory of Baker Perkins Inc. at Saginaw was closed soon after the merger was announced, with product manufacturing being transferred to the APV facility at Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Engineering administration and customer demonstration remained in Saginaw.

The decision was taken to move the plate heat exchanger manufacturing business from the original APV HQ at Crawley – which was to be closed – to the Baker Perkins Food Machinery Inc. factory at Goldsboro. This move was accomplished by December 1988. The Lanham Machinery Inc bakery machinery business, acquired by Baker Perkins in 1989, was transferred from Atlanta, GA. to Goldsboro in 1991.

The acquisition of Sterling Extruder Corporation in 1986 brought further changes to Saginaw. The polymer machinery division and the sub-group management were relocated from Saginaw to the Sterling Extruder facility at South Plainfield, New Jersey. In October 1986, J.T. Gallagher and his staff moved from Saginaw to premises in Parsippany, New Jersey. These were to be known as the Corporate Office. At the same time, it was announced that Sterling's wire and cable coating business did not fit with APV Baker's business strategy and would be disposed of.

The headquarters of the American chemical machinery business and the existing plastics machinery operations was moved from Michigan to New Jersey where a new Customer Demonstration Centre and development laboratory were built, manufacturing being transferred to APV Crepaco’s Lake Mills, Wisconsin factory.

In 1990, Sterling became part of APV Plastics Machinery Inc. following the split of APV Chemical Machinery into two groups - APV Plastics Machinery Europe and APV Plastics Machinery Inc. The American subsidiary became a division of APV Crepaco. APV plc announced in September 1990 that it wanted to dispose of the Plastics machinery business and it was consolidated at the Edison facility. In December 1990, it was sold to Crompton & Knowles Corporation.

The business of APV Chemical Inc was sold in April 1995 for £1.6m. This business still exists, working out of the original works/offices in Hess Street, Saginaw and producing a similar line of chemical machinery - Centrifugals, Continuous Mixers, Batch Mixers, Vertical Energetics, etc., under the name of B & P Process Equipment.

Manufacture of biscuit ovens and control panels being made at the ex-Werner Lehara plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan was transferred to Goldsboro and Paston (APV Baker, Peterborough) in 1996/97.

Baker Perkins Group Sales by Region

In 1982, the last year in which figures were split at this level, the sales by geographical area were as follows:

United Kingdom
£26.587m
19.3%
Rest of Europe
£29.170m
21.2%
North America
£46.165m
33.5%
Africa, India, Middle East
£15.981m
11.6%
Australasia
£10.902m
7.9%
Latin America
£6.654m
4.8%
Far East
£2.343m
1.7%
 
£137.802m

TO BE CONTINUED

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