Gaar, Scott & Co. 1836-1911
Most of the mills in Wayne County were powered by streams, but some took advantage of the many springs available locally. Gaar, Scott & Co. was Richmond’s first major manufacturer with a national reach. It began humbly in 1836 as a machine shop called the Spring Foundry. The Gaar family took over operations a few years later, and started manufacturing threshers. Sitting in the midst of a huge agricultural region, they began producing farm equipment, specializing in threshers and steam engines.
Unlike nearly all the other early companies that were centered on the rivers, Gaar, Scott & Co. was on a hill above the Whitewater Gorge. There, it would later be in a perfect position to use the railroad to get its large and very heavy product out to markets across the country and around the world.
Later Owners 1911-Present Day
The company was purchased by another agricultural production company, Rumley Co. of LaPorte, Indiana, in 1911 when that company made a major expansion. Production continued with nearly full employment, but a downturn in business soon after sent the Rumley company into bankruptcy by 1915. Parts of the sprawling complex were occupied off and on over the years, but by the early 1990s nearly all of the buildings that comprised the complex were gone with one exception. That building was built as the Administration Building for Gaar, Scott & Co. but another local company, Richmond Baking Company, occupied it in 1921. It has remained its headquarters to this day.
Richmond Baking Company 1921 - Present Day
The Richmond Baking Company began in 1902 making bread for daily home use. It soon expanded into cookies and crackers, and in 1917 moved into a couple of the former Gaar, Scott & Co. buildings, including the administration building. Richmond Baking Company continued to grow and adapt to changing conditions. They made rations for soldiers during World War II. In the 1960s, they manufactured a diet cracker called Metrecal. Currently, they produce breading and crumbs for use in other foods, including fiber wafers for Metamucil and graham crackers to be ground into crumbs for Sara Lee pie crusts, in addition to cookies and crackers.
You can learn more about the history of Richmond Baking Company on the Morrisson-Reeves Library local history blog.