TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — One of Terre Haute’s oldest businesses is now under new ownership.
Wednesday, we learned Clabber Girl was sold to B&G Foods.
From what the sale means for the local business and Clabber Girl’s rich history in Terre Haute, to how the community reacted, WTWO/WAWV has the story.
New owner, same Clabber Girl
It’s taken two years for the Hulman Company and family to find the perfect business to sell Clabber Girl to.
Now they’ve done it, and they feel confident this is the best move for the company, and for Terre Haute.
President and CEO of Hulman Company, Mark Miles, says the decision to sell was not an easy one.
However B&G foods checked off all their boxes.
To us, B&G Foods is an ideal buyer from every perspective because they acquire and then they grow them.
– Mark Miles, Hulman Company president and CEO
The plan going forward is to continue to grow the Clabber Girl Brand.
“The eleven manufacturing facilities they have across the country give us better insight and some resources on how to improve, and grow and expand our manufacturing,” said Clabber Girl Corporation President Gary Morris. “Which is my plan.”
The owners may be new, but the faces at 9th and Wabash will stay the same, as B&G plans to keep the over 180 employees.
“Their intention, we know, is to keep the company in Terre Haute,” said Miles. “So if it’s here in Terre Haute, and it’s growing I think that’s really good news in Vigo County.”
While B&G expands Clabber Girl, the Hulman Company will be using more resources to focus on another family business.
“We’re doubling down on racing. And that means the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500, Indy Car,” said Miles. “This allows us to have more capitol and more flexibility and to really focus on the core racing business at this point.”
For locals worried about the new-comers changing the iconic brand we all know and love, Morris says not to worry.
When you come in on Highway 40 East of town, you see the Clabber Girl sign that’s been there since the ’30s. As for the museum and Clabber Girl Bakeshop, those aren’t going to change. And the connection to Terre Haute and Clabber Girl is not going to change.”
– Gary Morris, Clabber Girl Corporation president
Clabber Girl’s long history with Terre Haute
Clabber Girl has been part of the Terre Haute community for many years.
Francis and Herman Hulman formed Hulman & Co. in the 1850’s. Some 40 years later, the company started manufacturing baking powder.
Clabber Girl really became big once Tony Hulman Jr. started a nationwide sales campaign in 1930.
In 2006, Clabber Girl announced an expansion of it’s manufacturing plant downtown. For many years, it’s produced a wide variety of products including pudding and pie filling and corn starch.
It’s also sponsored everything from softball teams to bowling tournaments.
There’s also the annual Clabber Girl Country Christmas and, of course, the Clabber Girl Museum.
The museum contains the long proud history of the company as Theresa Shaffer told us in 2012.
We’re absolutely here because of the people that were here before us.”
– Theresa Shaffer
In fact, the Hulman and Company building that houses Clabber Girl’s museum and bake shop dates back to 1892. And that building has become a source of hometown pride for local residents.
A source of hometown pride for residents
When community members heard the news of the sale, making sure the restaurant and museum will stay the same was a main concern.
Some said they think the Hulman family is pulling their ties from Terre Haute after being a staple in the community for such a long time.
But others said change isn’t a bad thing.
An Indianapolis couple visiting Clabber Girl for the first time Wednesday were among those to hear the news.
“I didn’t realize that they had been in the area for so many years,” Joyce Todrank said.
“It tells the history of Terre Haute. It tells a little of the history of the race. It tells the heritage.”
– Joyce Todrank
Todrank and her husband are prime examples that the iconic restaurant draws visitors to Terre Haute.
That’s what resident Ann Stewart said she hopes isn’t lost during the sale.
“When we have friends in town, I always take them down there because it’s so neat to tour around because it’s got history and everything,” Stewart said. “So, I hope that doesn’t change.”
Aside from wanting to see the Hulman legacy in the city stay the same, Richard Pound who visits Terre Haute each month for a high school reunion lunch said change is inevitable.
“I have mixed feelings because it seems like the Hulman family is selling off all their assets in Terre Haute and that seems to be a shame, the Terre Haute house and now this,” Pound said.
But after his own research into B&G Foods, Pound noted he is optimistic about the overall change in the city.
“I did see who was buying it and their bio. They look like they’re a very good firm,” he said.
There’s a lot of modernization. I think things are looking good for Terre Haute.”
– Richard Pound
Pound even said he may have to change his monthly restaurant spot in Terre Haute to Clabber Girl.
More information about Clabber Girl is available on their website.