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P&Q Hall of Fame Profile: Edward L. ‘Ted’ Baker

By |  February 22, 2022

Editor’s note: Four men will be enshrined in the Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame during the March 28 induction ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee. Edward L. “Ted” Baker, a member of the 2022 Hall of Fame class, is the subject of this profile.


Photo: Edward L. Ted Baker

Baker

Florida Rock Industries, whose origins stretch back nearly 100 years, emerged in the 20th century as one of the nation’s largest producers of construction aggregates and concrete products.

A number of Baker family members were central over the years to the growth of Florida Rock, which ultimately sold in 2007. Perhaps the most prominent figure in the company’s rise was Edward L. “Ted” Baker, who served Florida Rock in several leadership capacities across four decades.

John D. Baker II, who served Florida Rock as president and CEO in the company’s final years, characterizes his older brother as one of the smartest people he’s ever met.

“Intuitively, he had great judgment about making moves,” John says. “He was an amazing people person. Even when we had 10 or 15 plants, he knew most of the workers in the plant. They all adored him.”

Ted served Florida Rock in capacities such as president, CEO and chairman, taking an enterprise established by his father during the Great Depression and expanding its reach tremendously across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

“He was instrumental in taking the company public and instrumental in its growth,” says Ted Baker II, nephew of the Hall of Fame inductee who served as CEO of Bluegrass Materials before it officially sold in 2018 to Martin Marietta. “He spent his whole career there and grew it from a little company to a pretty large public company when it sold in 2007.”

Although Vulcan Materials purchased Florida Rock that year in a deal valued at more than $4 billion, Ted had long since diversified his company and grown it through a number of strategic acquisitions and a highly calculated plan.

The Bakers in business

Edward L. "Ted" Baker, pictured at the far right, is seen here in 1973 along with Florida Rock's Thompson S. Baker and William Mayer of the American Stock Exchange. Photo: P&Q Archives

Edward L. “Ted” Baker, pictured at the far right, is seen here in 1973 along with Florida Rock’s Thompson S. Baker and William Mayer of the American Stock Exchange. Photo: P&Q Archives

Still, Florida Rock would not have come to be had Ted’s father, Thompson S. Baker, not gone into the sand business near Gainesville, Florida, in 1929.

According to John, their father (Thompson) started a business that year. Along with Jim Shands, a business partner, the company Shands & Baker was formed. 

The breakout of World War II pulled Thompson away from the business during the war years, John says. But Shands & Baker started over after the war, purchasing its first crushed stone plant in 1948 near Brooksville, Florida.

By the 1960s, John says his older brother (Ted) emerged as a prominent figure in the Shands & Baker business.

“When he was 28, my dad made him president of the company,” John says. “We had a rock quarry and a couple of sand plants at that point.”

It was also clear by the time Ted was president that he and his father employed different tactics for running the business.

“My dad and brother were different as night and day,” John says. “My dad grew up in the [Great] Depression. He’d seen his father go broke when nobody could pay him. He abhorred debt. To grow like we did through acquisitions, you had to take on some debt.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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