Baker Commodities Inc., one of the leading providers of rendering and grease removal services in the United States, is celebrating its 80-year anniversary this year. Founded in 1937, today three generations of the Andreoli family oversee day-to-day operations and have been responsible for growing the business by expanding into new fields such as biodiesel production and cold storage.
In the Beginning
Baker Commodities’ story began in 1926 when three brothers – Frank, Paul, and Varney Jerome – started a fertilizer hauling business in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. They moved their venture to the Imperial Valley four years later and seven years after that, they were major players in the rendering industry.
To service the dairies located in the 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 boiled to render the fat that was then barreled and, along with the hides, sold in Los Angeles.
Once the Jeromes began their rendering business, it did not take long for them to expand. Within 25 years of the first cow being rendered, the company 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, Hawaii; and established trade routes in Asia.
One of their key purchases occurred in 1948. Frank and his brothers bought a defunct rendering business named Baker Rendering Company, previously owned by Phil Baker. The property where the company was located was converted to a fish reduction plant named Harbor By-Products (which became a subsidiary of Baker Rendering Company) and Baker Rendering was reestablished and relocated to Bandini Boulevard in Vernon, California. Baker’s headquarters today is just down the street from that original location.
As the business grew, Frank 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 those key employees was Jim Andreoli Sr. who was brought onboard in 1951 as chief accountant after leaving his position at a public accounting firm.
Since mechanization of existing facilities and new construction were important to the company at this time, Frank 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 other pivotal employees, such as Andreoli, 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 headquartered outside Boston, Massachusetts. Corenco was formed in 1898 as Lowell Fertilizer Company 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 operation 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 the company 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 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 is completely committed to being a fully sustainable company, recycling everything it picks up and turn-ing it into highly valuable ingredients in feed, fuel, and various industrial products such as soaps, paints and varnishes, cosmetics, explosives, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and lubricants.
In 2014, Baker committed itself to the biodiesel industry with the purchase of New Leaf Biofuel in San Diego, California, which processes used cooking oil from more than a thousand local restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, casinos, and industrial kitchens throughout the state. Baker also provides yellow grease and tallow to other biodiesel production facilities around the world. In addition, the rendering company built and owns a brand new 250,000-square-foot cold storage facility within the Port of Long Beach, California. Managed by leading third-party logistics provider Lineage Logistics, this state-of-the-art facility features a freezer, cooler, and refrigerated cross dock for truck, container, and rail service. The environmentally-friendly building opened earlier this year and is the second cold storage facility Baker owns.
What the Jeromes started back in 1937 is now a completely sustainable nationwide company. As three generations of the Andreoli family – Jim, his three sons, and their adult children – celebrate 80 years of being in business, they also celebrate 80 years of “Recycling For Life,” ensuring that the environment is protected for many generations to come.
April 2017 RENDER | back