Iconic Terre Haute family company moving entirely to motorsports
TERRE HAUTE — The Hulman family and its employees started manufacturing "clabber" baking powder in Terre Haute in 1899 — two decades before the image of a smiling girl, holding a plate of biscuits, graced its cans.
Now, for the first time in its century-plus history, Clabber Girl Corp. — the maker of Clabber Girl Baking Powder — has a new owner.
Hulman & Co. announced the sale of its Clabber Girl operations to B&G Foods Inc. The New Jersey-based B&G manufactures and distributes a broad range of food products including Cream of Wheat, Green Giant, Ortega, SnackWell's, Mrs. Dash and many others.
The 180 employees at Clabber Girl's historic facility at Ninth Street and Wabash Avenue, as well as the Terre Haute community, shouldn't notice any major changes in day-to-day activities, company officials said this morning.
And, the Clabber Girl Museum featuring Hulman family relics and photographs will remain as-is, inside the plant building.
B&G paid $80 million for Clabber Girl, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. B&G used cash and revolving loans to purchase the brand, the company explained in a news release. B&G expects Clabber Girl will generate $70 million to $75 million of net sales annually, according to that same corporate news release.
One visible change Clabber Girl president and chief operating officer Gary Morris wants to see in the future, though, is an expansion of the firm's production in Terre Haute.
The sale of Clabber Girl by the Hulmans allows both companies a greater focus on their 21st-century specialties — motorsports for the Hulmans and baking products for Clabber Girl.
By joining B&G, a food corporation with more than 50 brands and 2,500 employees across North America, Clabber Girl has a prime chance to grow, Morris believes.
"This is a company that understands the food business," Morris said Wednesday morning at the Clabber Girl Bakeshop, "and that's very important to us."
Clabber Girl's potential to grow factored heavily in the Hulmans' decision to sell to B&G, said Mark Miles, the Hulman & Co. CEO and president.
And although this sale largely ends the Hulman family's 150-plus years of business activity in Terre Haute, the company envisions the baking powder manufacturer continuing its legacy for years to come, Miles said.
"I think in 20 years, [the Hulman connection to Terre Haute] will be much the same, but hopefully with a bigger Clabber Girl," Miles said.
The sale trims the Hulman & Co. business to its racing interests.
"It's strategic for Hulman & Co.," Miles said Wednesday. "We thought it was important to focus on the racing business."
The company owns and operates Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the iconic track that Terre Haute businessman and philanthropist Tony Hulman purchased and resurrected after World War II. The Hulmans' racing interests also include the IndyCar Series and IMS Productions.