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

By |  February 22, 2022

“My dad was very conservative,” John adds, “whereas my brother was a mover and shaker.”

Titan of industry

Photo: Edward L. Ted Baker

Baker

As John further describes, Ted “single-handedly built” the Florida Rock business and took the company public in 1972.

“There were some greenfields, but almost all of the growth was through acquisitions,” John says. “He really built it up until he turned it over to me in the late 1990s.”

According to John, Ted recognized the need early on for the company to become vertically integrated in order to effectively compete. And that’s the direction Ted took the company.

“In the 1960s, Florida was becoming vertically integrated,” John says. “Our biggest competitors all had both ready-mix and aggregates. So we really had to go into the ready-mix business just to make sure we had customers.”

In 1972, following the merger of several old, established concrete companies into Shands & Baker, the name of the corporation was changed to Florida Rock Industries. The Shands & Baker Division was incorporated into an aggregates group.

In 1978, Florida Rock purchased three granite quarries in Georgia and a dolomitic limestone quarry in Gulf Hammock, Florida, from Dixie Lime & Stone Co., a subsidiary of Rosario Resources Corp. The acquisition marked the company’s entry into the Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, aggregate markets, as well as the agricultural limestone business in Florida and southern Georgia. 

“As he was getting the company going, those were really the big acquisitions for us that spread us out throughout the Southeast,” John says.

In 1981, Florida Rock Industries’ newest sand and gravel plant was located in Marion County, Florida. The plant was rated at 200 tph and principally served the Daytona Beach, Florida, market. Photo: P&Q Archives

In 1981, Florida Rock Industries’ newest sand and gravel plant was located in Marion County, Florida. The plant was rated at 200 tph and principally served the Daytona Beach, Florida, market. Photo: P&Q Archives

Ted guided Florida Rock into the Tampa, Florida, ready-mix market with a new plant and delivery fleet in 1978. Other projects that year included the completion of a quarry in Fort Myers, Florida, and the modernization and expansion of facilities in Rome, Georgia.

By the end of 1980, Florida Rock had 39 ready-mix plants in operation and a fleet of 424 mixer trucks in service. The company had a variety of ready-mix plants in Virginia and Washington, D.C., by then, as well.

As described in Pit & Quarry’s September 1981 edition, Florida Rock had built or acquired five construction minerals plants each year since 1975, expanding and upgrading its quarries and truck fleets while entering new markets in aggregates and concrete through acquisitions.

Keep in mind, though, that Ted not only had the vision to set Florida Rock on a rapid path to growth, but he endeared himself to his employees who delivered on his plans for each individual operation.

“There was an amazing amount of loyalty to our family created by him, just with him being the guy that he is,” John says of Ted. “He was a remarkable salesman in every use of the word. Not only could he sell rock, but he could sell himself and make people want to do business for him.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

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

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