In 1930, Kenneth Rider and William Switzer, the owners of the Hoosier Canning Company, opened a factory on the east side of Trafalgar, near the Big Four railroad tracks. A fire on December 22, 1930 caused substantial damage, but the factory was rebuilt in time for the 1931 season.
By the mid-1930s, the partnership between Rider and Switzer ended and the company became the Rider Canning Company. The company canned tomato products and eventually sold beans and other produce under the new brand name: “Red Gold.” Branding that emphasized fresh, ripe produce was crucial to gaining consumer trust in canned produce, which can’t be seen, touched, or tasted through the tin can.
Another devastating fire on December 7, 1954 caused an estimated $200,000 in damages and required firefighters from eight different departments to extinguish. Once again, new buildings replaced the destroyed ones in time for the 1955 season.
By the 1950s, one of the challenges for Midwestern canning companies was competing with companies in California where the climate could support multiple canning seasons. In an effort to stay open year round, Rider Canning Company became a co-packer for the Hi-C Division of Minute Maid in 1965. They packed and processed produce grown elsewhere and shipped to Trafalgar. This allowed the factory to be open in the winter when it would normally be idle. Co-packing both made the factory much more profitable and meant it employed people all year rather than seasonally.
Jack Rider took over from his father and managed the company until 1969 when he stopped production. In 1970 the Orestes Company, a cannery in Madison County, bought the Red Gold brand. They began using that name as the company’s brand name and is still seen in stores today. In 1972, Jack Rider sold the canning company to Penny Products, Inc.
Indiana Architectural Plywood now occupies the land where Rider Canning once stood, but Red Gold Drive is still the name of a nearby road in Trafalgar. Red Gold as a brand has grown exponentially in the past 40 years. It still relies heavily on Indiana growers to produce their wide range of canned tomatoes and other products.