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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Baker Industries, Inc. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Baker Industries, Inc.

List of Deals

Baker Industries was originally incorporated as Pyrene Manufacturing in Delaware in December 1909. The first directors of the company were Joseph Hartigan, A.I. Rorke, and J.J. Byrns. The company began as a manufacturer of chemical fire extinguishers that were used in a variety of places including tractors, trains, ambulances, and airplanes. The company paid its first dividend in 1913 and by 1920 it earned net profits of $314,492. By 1926 the company reported that 25 percent of its earnings were derived from sales abroad.

Pyrene endured the Great Depression with results that were somewhat better than many other companies during this period. From 1929 to 1931, earnings fell 21 percent, yet dividends continued to be paid and working capital rose by 11 percent. Part of the reason for this was Pyrene's efforts at diversification. By 1931 Pyrene's operations were concentrated in the manufacture of Pyrene, Phomene, and Guardene fire extinguishers and liquids as well as other products such as Pyrene Safety Cleaner and automobile tire chains.

Through the 1930s and 1940s the company continued to grow steadily, with net income increasing from $218,667 in 1936 to $337,757 in 1941. In 1952 Pyrene formed a new industrial research and development subsidiary, Pyrene Development Corporation, to carry out research on fire-extinguishing equipment and compounds as well as in the larger field of safety devices.

In August 1952, a group of investors acting through Pyro, Inc., a newly organized corporation, acquired a majority of the stock of Pyrene Manufacturing. Pyrene Manufacturing sold two of its subsidiaries in 1953: Pyrene Company, Ltd., of England and Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Canada, Ltd.

In January 1956, Pyrene Manufacturing and its wholly owned subsidiary, C-O-Two Fire Equipment Company, merged into a single corporation entity with the new name Pyrene C-O-Two Corporation. In May 1956, this new corporation changed its name once again to Baker Industries. Aside from the fact that the chairman of the company was named Soloman R. Baker, the reason given for this name change was that Pyrene was selling its domestic fire equipment and systems business to the Fyr-Fyter Company. It retained the following subsidiaries: Cerberus Fire Protector, Pyrene Metal Finishers, Chemical Concentrates Corp., and C-O-Two Fire Equipment of Canada, Ltd.

In the 1960s, Baker Industries entered the fire and burglary protective service industry by acquiring N.D.T. Security Systems and Sentinel Alarm Company.

In 1966 net income for Baker doubled from the previous year to $1.3 million on sales of $13 million. This increase was attributed to an aggressive acquisitions policy that included purchases of Central Watch Service in Chicago and American Fire Dispatch in Los Angeles. With these acquisitions, Baker now had six central security services in as many cities throughout the United States.

In 1967, Baker acquired the armored car and coin-auditing operations of Wells Fargo & Co. for an undisclosed amount of cash. It continued this business under the name of Wells Fargo in 89 metropolitan areas. In 1968, it added two other armored car companies: Armored Motors Service of Denver and Springfield Armored Car Service of Springfield, Mass.

In 1969 sales for Baker rose to $54.7 million with net income of $2.6 million. Baker continued its acquisitions spree in 1970 with the purchase of two guard companies and an armored transport service for a combination of cash and stock. In 1971 Baker net income and revenues continued to climb as a result of acquisitions, resulting in $4.2 million in profit on sales of a record $85 million.

Baker Industries common stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972.

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