This is a big year for Baker Commodities, Inc. Founded in 1937, one of the nation’s leading providers of rendering and grease removal services is celebrating 75 years of being in business, and the three generations that run the company today couldn’t be any prouder.
Baker Commodities’ story begins in 1926 when three brothers – Frank, Paul, and Varney Jerome – started a fertilizer hauling business in a suburb of Los Angeles, CA. They moved their venture to the Imperial Valley four years later and seven years after that move, they were a player in the rendering industry.
To service the dairies located in the Imperial Valley, the Jeromes began collecting dead stock in a 1921 Studebaker touring car. Their “modern” plant consisted of an open tank filled with water that was heated to boiling with live steam. The dead stock was skinned and then boiled to render the fat. The fat was then barreled and, along with the hides, sold in Los Angeles. Considering this was 1937, it took the brothers nearly two days to process one cow.
Jump forward to today. What the Jeromes started back then is now a completely sustainable nationwide company, collecting and recycling animal by-products and used cooking oil via its network of facilities and service providers across the United States.
In the Beginning
Once the Jeromes began their rendering business, it didn’t take long for them to expand. Within 25 years of that first cow being rendered, the Jeromes had opened rendering plants and hog farms in Arizona and New Mexico; began a solvent extraction plant in Southern California; acquired rendering, tallow, and packing operations, including one in Honolulu, HI; and sailed across the sea, shipping their tallow to the Orient.
One of those key purchases occurred in 1948. Frank Jerome and his brothers bought a defunct rendering business named Baker Rendering Company, previously owned by Phil Baker. The property was converted to a fish reduction plant and named Harbor By-Products, which became a subsidiary of Baker Rendering Company. Baker Rendering was relocated to Bandini Boulevard in Vernon, CA, just down the street from where Baker Commodities, Inc. is headquartered today.
As the business grew, Frank Jerome realized he needed qualified employees. From 1950 until 1960, he hired several key individuals who would eventually become part of the Baker family. One of these key employees was Jim Andreoli, who was hired in 1951 as chief accountant, leaving his position at a public accounting firm.
Since mechanization of existing facilities and new construction was important to the company at this time, Frank Jerome became acquainted with Jack Keith, an engineer who, together with the Jeromes, formed Keith Engineering Company. That business was instrumental in developing new rendering processes beneficial to Baker, including the first continuous rendering system that revolutionized the industry in 1960. Keith Engineering also developed the Keith press, which later became known as the Duke pressor when Keith Engineering was sold to The Dupps Company.
In 1961, the Jeromes formed Baker Commodities, Inc., naming the brothers and a few pivotal employees as owners.
From 1961 until the mid-1980s, Baker acquired a number of small rendering companies, primarily in California. In 1974, Baker ventured into the Korean market by establishing Samyang Baker Tank Terminal in Inchon, Korea, with Sam Yang Foods as co-owner.
In 1976, Baker Commodities was sold to Canadian Pacific Enterprises, a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Railroad. Under this new ownership, the growth continued, including the acquisition of Corenco Corporation, which was headquartered outside Boston, MA. Corenco was originally formed as Lowell Fertilizer Company in 1898 by the Swift family, owners of Swift Meat Packing.
In 1982, Baker purchased several rendering companies in New York, including a plant in Rochester (Wm. Stappenbeck, Inc.) that began operations in 1892 as A-Peterson.
Andreoli, who was a key player when Baker first incorporated, became a notable part of the company’s history when he reacquired Baker from Canadian Pacific in 1985. It was at this same time that his three sons, Jim Jr., Tony, and Andy, became renderers alongside their father.
Under Jim Andreoli’s leadership, Baker Commodities continued to thrive, acquiring additional companies throughout the western United States and on the East Coast. Baker is both a manufacturer and a merchandiser, not only selling its own products of tallow, feed fat, and meat and bone meal, but also buying products from other renderers for resale.
Baker prides itself on utilizing the latest technology, not only in processing its materials, but controlling odor. With plants located in the heart of major cities, several of which are situated in residential neighborhoods, Baker has remained vigilant in applying good rendering practices and using the best odor control technology to prevent and control odors. The company has also remained proactive with local citizen groups and governmental agencies.
Baker is also completely committed to being a 100 percent sustainable company, recycling everything it picks up, and turning it into other materials such as high-energy fats and high-quality protein ingredients that supplement the diet and help efficient production of beef, veal, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. The renderer’s facilities also convert used cooking oil into yellow grease, a key ingredient in biodiesel fuels.
Today, as three generations of the Andreoli family – Jim Andreoli, his three sons, and their sons – celebrate 75 years of being in business, they also celebrate 75 years of “Recycling for Life,” ensuring that the environment is protected for many generations to come.
October 2012 RENDER | back