Clabber Girl

Updated, 12:14 p.m. -- 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.

The 103rd running of their marquee event, the Indianapolis 500, is just 12 days away. Auto racers will compete for the 500 Borg-Warner trophy on May 26, with a 12:19 p.m. start.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

Original story, 8:16 a.m.:

One of Terre Haute's foundational businesses is changing ownership.

Hulman & Co. announced today in a news release the sale of Clabber Girl Corporation to B&G Foods, Inc., a leading manufacturer, seller and distributor of shelf-stable and frozen foods across North America.

"Our core focus is the pursuit of world-class motorsports competition and entertainment," Hulman & Co. President & CEO Mark Miles said. "This decision positions us to fully focus on the continued direction and growth of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions. It also provides Clabber Girl with a well-prepared owner ready to use its vast expertise and considerable resources to accelerate the growth of the newest member of its impressive portfolio."

"The Hulman-George family takes great pride in the Clabber Girl brand's success, history and critical role in the development and rich cultural fabric of Terre Haute," Hulman & Co. Chairman of the Board Anton Hulman "Tony" George said. "Clabber Girl will always be a cherished and celebrated part of our legacy, and we're excited we've found a strong steward for its very bright future."

Like Clabber Girl, B&G Foods has spent more than a century in the food business. The company maintains more than 50 brands and 2,500 employees across North America. This includes Ortega, Green Giant, Cream of Wheat, Mrs. Dash, Back to Nature and many others.

"We are excited to join the B&G Foods family as we add our iconic Clabber Girl brand to its impressive portfolio of brands consumers both recognize and trust," Clabber Girl President and COO Gary Morris said. "Clabber Girl will benefit from the knowledge and reach B&G Foods will provide as a seasoned food manufacturer and distributor. Together, we will continue to grow this historic business."

Guggenheim Securities, LLC acted as Hulman & Co.'s financial advisor for this transaction. PJ Solomon advised B&G Foods Inc. in this transaction.

Hulman & Co. is involved in motorsports competition and entertainment through its three entities, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), INDYCAR and IMS Productions. IMS is the world's largest spectator sporting facility and the most famous racetrack on Earth. INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based sanctioning body for the fastest and most competitive open-wheel racing series, the NTT IndyCar Series. IMS Productions is a leading provider of motorsports and sporting entertainment experience solutions.

Based in Parsippany, New Jersey, B&G Foods and its subsidiaries manufacture, sell and distribute, branded shelf-stable and frozen foods across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. With B&G Foods' diverse portfolio of more than 50 brands, including Back to Nature, B&G, B&M, Cream of Wheat, Green Giant, Las Palmas, Le Sueur, Mama Mary's, Maple Grove Farms, Mrs. Dash, New York Style, Ortega, Polaner, SnackWell's, Spice Islands and Victoria.