From 1919 to 1928, the new bakery was enlarged nine times. This was one addition each year. Competitors in the Fort Worth market were Reich's B & B (Biggest and Best), Walker's Big Dandy Bread, and Doherty's Butter Krust.
About 1920, the family induced Mrs. Baird to quit working in the bakery. They thought she had worked long enough. The family built a two-story home on the corner of Scott and Beach Streets. Mrs. Baird moved there and quit working in the retail sales room. Later she moved to 2429 Rogers Road. She continued as active head of the business until her death in 1961.
With the bakery at 6th Avenue and Terrell doing well, Roland suggested expanding to Dallas. Mrs. Baird could have said, "Let's just stay the size we are." The business could really be hurt if the expansion failed. "But she never batted an eye," Hoyt Baird recalls. She gave her approval for that expansion to Dallas and for the others that followed.
This willingness to take on new challenges was, he feels, the most important single factor in the growth and success of the business. It was this readiness to move ahead that helped to eventually create more than 2,500 jobs and make Mrs. Baird's the outstanding organization it is today.
Family SupervisionAs the Dallas plant was being planned, the family adopted a concept that would prove wise in the years ahead. A member of the Baird family would head the new plant for the family. He would represent the family, supervise each day's bake, and assume personal responsibility for the quality and freshness of the products that would bear the family's name. This concept of family supervision was a logical development. Since the very beginning, Mrs. Baird and her family had been closely involved in business. When they did all the baking and delivery, they had guarded quality and freshness as though their very future depended on it - and it did. When they hired people to help them with the baking and delivery, the family continued to be closely involved and personally responsible for the products they baked. In their growth, family supervision had been a way of life. Now, as they contemplated new frontiers, it would continue to be.
The Dallas plant opened in 1928, with son Roland Baird heading up the plant for the Baird family. In 1938, a plant was opened in Houston with Dewey heading the plant for the family and B.J. Barr as General Manager. Later Mr. Barr became a Vice President and member of the Board of Directors. That same year the Fort Worth operation moved into a new bread plant on Summit. The plant at Sixth and Terrell was now devoted exclusively to cakes. Hoyt Baird now headed the Fort Worth bread plant for the Baird family, with A. D. Gillespie, Sr. as General Manager. C. B. Baird headed the Cake plant with Dudley Johnson as General Manager.
During these years of growth for Mrs. Baird's, changes were also taking place in the way the products they were baked were being marketed. In the early 20's, wrapping was introduced for bread. The first wrapping machines were semi-automatic, with the operator doing part of the folding. Sliced bread was introduced in 1927. In November 1936, Mrs. Baird's began hand-twisting bread. This procedure, in which two half-loaf pieces of dough were intertwined to form one dough piece, continues today at all Mrs. Baird's plants. Twisting improves flavor, texture, and keeping qualities of the loaf.
In 1949, a new plant was built in Abilene. William D. (Bill) Baird headed the plant for the Baird family with A. D. Gillespie, Sr., as General Manager.
Plans were also underway to build a new plant in Dallas to match that growing market. In 1950, the continuous mix process was introduced to the baking industry. It offered a short cut in production time and a considerable saving in cost. The planners of the new Dallas plant carefully considered the revolutionary new process and decided to stay with the yeast-raised baking method they had used since the business began. They felt the consumer would prefer bread baked the yeast-raised way. They have never regretted the decision.
In 1953, Mrs. Baird's of Dallas moved into a huge new plant recognized by the industry as the nation's largest automatic bread plant.
Roland Baird, who helped his mother and older brother Dewey with baking and later headed the Dallas plant for the family, retired in 1954.
The business expanded again in 1959. Bakeries were purchased in Lubbock and Victoria and, early the next year, bakeries were also acquired in Austin and Waco. In 1969, a pie plant was purchased in Abilene.
But while the passing years brought growth, they also brought sadness. Mrs. Baird died June 3, 1961 after a long, eventful, and certainly gratifying life. She had often said she was far prouder that her children had grown up to be good citizens than she was of the fact that she had founded a successful business. At her funeral, the officiating minister described Mrs. Baird as "an ideal woman in the eyes of God." He said Mrs. Baird had fulfilled the highest traditions of American life but, in all the fullness of her work, she had always been a devoted mother and family woman. In Mrs. Baird's memory, the Texas Senate passed Senate Resolution No. 13. In the Resolution, the Senate said that Mrs. Baird has been "a living example for mothers, wives, business executives, Christians and good people the world over." Copies of the Resolution were sent to her family with deep regard of the Texas Senate.
Dewey Baird died March 25, 1965. Dewey was the oldest son and had been active in the business from the very beginning. He had been his mother's first assistant and, during the years, had gone on to become President and eventually Chairman of the Board.
C. B. Baird, Mrs. Baird's youngest son, died May 27, 1969. When the business started, C. B. had been only 5. But he soon took an active part in the young business, became an officer and member of the Board of Directors and, until his death, headed the Fort Worth Cake Plant for the Baird family.
Others who played vital roles in the growth of the business are also gone. Charlie Longguth, the iceman who became the Company's first route salesman, died in 1956. C. C. Gressett, who joined the company as a bookkeeper in 1924 and rose to Vice President and General Manager of the Dallas Plant, also a member of the Board of Directors, died in 1962. A. D. "Tiny" Gillespie, Sr., who joined the Company as a relief driver and later managed two bakeries, died in 1967. He had risen to Vice President and member of the Board of Directors. Dudley Johnson, who was the Cake Plant's first general manager and whose career spanned from route salesman to Vice President and member of the Board of Directors, died in late 1967.
B. J. Barr, who played a major role in establishing Mrs. Baird's products in the Houston market, died in 1975 after a long and colorful career in the baking industry. He joined Mrs. Baird's in 1938 and went to Houston as General Manager. He was later named Vice President and General Manager of the Houston plant. In 1957 he was named Executive Vice President. He retired in 1959 but continued as a member of the Board of Directors until his death.
Lillian Hughes started as a cashier in July, 1925 and during the ensuing years saw the organization grow from one plant to eleven. "All through the years," she said, "I learned one very important thing. Any employee who enjoys his or her work and does it well can expect advancement. The opportunity is there for everyone." When she retired on July 31, 1975 - the first employee to log 50 years of continuous service - Mrs. Hughes held the top level position of Corporate Secretary of Mrs Baird's Bakeries Inc.
William D. Baird, Chairman of the Board and grandson of the founder, died in 1976. When Bill was born the family business was housed in a two-room wooden building at 1811 Washington. He started working in the bakery as soon as his parents would let him, later supervised design and construction of bread plants at Fort Worth, Abilene, and Dallas, and for many years headed production for all Mrs. Baird's plants. There were and are many others in every area of the business, who have made lasting contributions to Mrs Baird's Bakeries.
In February 1970, Mrs. Baird's announced another expansion. Land was purchased for a new Cake Plant. The site was a 30-acre tract in South Fort Worth on Interstate 35, ideally suited for statewide distribution. Ground was broken September 28, 1970. The plant was completed in 1971 and production began early in 1972. The former Cake Plant at 6th Avenue and Terrell was closed in September, 1972, and all production moved to the new Cake Plant. In May, 1976, a bread plant was acquired in San Antonio, bring the total number of plants to 11.
As Mrs Baird's Bakeries moves toward the 80's, the same ingredients that brought the organization this far are still at work. It is still a family-owned business with W. Hoyt Baird as Chairman of the Executive Committee. Vernon Baird is President, Allen Baird is Executive Vice President, Clayton Baird is Senior Vice President, and Carroll Baird is Vice President of Operations. Three grandsons, Bob Baird, Bryon Baird, and Arthur Baird, and one great granson, Scott Baird, also hold top level positions. There is still the dedication and respect for baking a good product that Mrs. Baird instilled in her family at 512 Hemphill and 1811 Washington. The business that started in a home kitchen has grown until more than 2,500 families have joined the family that started it all. W. Hoyt Baird evaluates the contribution of this ever-growing team of employees this way: "There is no way this business could have succeeded without the cooperation and dedication of our employees. The secret of success in any business is people, and we have had - and still have - the very best!"
This, then, is the story of Mrs. Baird's until the present. But time does not stand still, and neither will this business. This Company's history has been a story of vitality, of teamwork, of growth, and of progress. Its future will be the same.
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