THE HISTORY OF BAKER PERKINS FOOD MACHINERY INC, USA
In autumn 1982, a new factory for the food division of BP Inc. was opened in West Ash Street, Goldsboro, N. Carolina, the offices for which were located in nearby Raleigh, N.C. The new $4.5m factory was to produce the food machinery – high-speed automated bread baking systems and twin-screw cooker extruders - previously made at Saginaw. Located on a 56-acre site it provided employment for 225 people. Land, construction and equipment costs amounted to $6.93m, with total costs, including direct and indirect revenue expenses, were approximately $13m.
The investment was deemed necessary as the bread industry was considered to be the most important of the group's markets and an increase in Baker Perkins' share of the US market was a prime aim. The new factory was expected to provide the opportunity to reverse the downward trend in profit resulting from the increasingly high costs of manufacture in the Saginaw area, dominated as it was by the Detroit automobile industry.
Some key personnel were transferred from Saginaw. It was intended that food machinery production would carry on at both Saginaw and Goldsboro for some months but that the Saginaw food machinery operations would cease in Spring 1983. Also in 1983, the offices and laboratories of the staff concerned with food extrusion systems were relocated to new premises in Raleigh.
The first major shipment of food processing equipment took place on 22 October 1982. At this time, the plant employed around 75 people but it was expected that when full production was achieved by the end of 1983 225 people were expected to be working on the site. Lawrence E. Keim was appointed Goldsboro plant manager in July 1983.
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. Bob Kelley, the previous chief executive of Baker Perkins Inc., Saginaw, moved to Raleigh as president and chief executive officer of the new company.
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 BPFM Inc. in the USA.
The 1984/85 financial year started with the highest order backlog in the history of the North American food machinery operations but, as a result of major customer realignments, further orders during the year were delayed. However, at the Las Vegas International Baking Industry Show in November 1985, the company took about $2m of new orders.
Following the retirement of R.F. Kelley in 1985, Mark Gibbard (ex-Group personnel manager) was seconded to BPFMI for six months as acting president. The company, after a good start, broke the encouraging trend enjoyed since the relocation and recorded a substantial loss ($6m) in 1986.
Immediately following the merger between Baker Perkins and APV in 1987, a 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 bakery machinery business, acquired by Baker Perkins in 1989, was transferred from Atlanta, GA. to Goldsboro in 1991. 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.
In August 2004, Turkington Industries of Burnley, UK purchased the Goldsboro-based bakery machinery business - the ex-Baker Perkins Inc. and Lanham bakery machinery operations. The sale did not include the APV plate heat exchanger manufacturing facility and both businesses continue to operate on different parts of the site. The ex-Werner Lehara biscuit, cookie and cracker business remained part of APV Baker).
It was announced in February 2012, that more than 100 employees were to be laid off from Turkington USA in Clayton beginning Feb. 17 as a result of the plant’s imminent shutdown.
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