Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Adolf Gobel, Inc. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Adolf Gobel, Inc.

List of Deals

The origin of Adolf Gobel, Inc., dates to 1891 when a peddler named Adolf Gobel sold his delicatessen products to small butcher shops in New York City from a wicker basket on his arm. As demand for delicatessen goods grew, Gobel opened a store in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn and later expanded as the industry grew to many parts of New York City. By 1926 the company had ninety-six motor trucks and employed 450 people. Gobel's original intention was to sell just sausages, but the demand for other delicatessen products increased so rapidly that many other food products were added. By the mid-1920s Adolf Gobel manufactured and sold a wide variety of fresh and smoked meats under the trade name, "Gobel's—Quality First—Pure Meat Products." These products, which included ham, bologna, corned beef, and bacon, were distributed through delicatessens, butchers, and restaurants throughout the Northeast.

When Adolf Gobel died in 1926 his heirs sold most of the company to a group of bankers; a small portion of common stock was sold publicly. In August 1926 Adolf Gobel, Inc., was incorporated in New York.

Adolf Gobel purchased George Kern, Inc., for $10 million in 1927. Kern, whose personal history was very similar to that of Adolf Gobel, had arrived in America in 1888 as a penniless immigrant from Stuttgart, Germany, and had built a business that ranked second only to Gobel in the processed meat business. When the Kern company was sold to Gobel it was described in the press as a packing, wholesale, and retail distributor of pork and beef products in New York City that owned a fleet of eighty-one motor trucks.

In 1927 Adolf Gobel also acquired B. Meier & Son of Bronx, New York, Hertz Brothers of Milton, Pennsylvania, Merkel Inc. of Jamaica, Long Island, and C. Lehman Packing of Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1928 it formed the Playland Refreshment Corporation, which operated a concession at Playland in Rye Beach, New York, and purchased Howard Provision Company, which operated a stand in West Washington Market, New York. During this year the company also began bottling and selling sauerkraut and frankfurters with great success.

In 1928 Adolf Gobel acquired nearly all of the stock of Keane-Loffler, Inc., of Washington, D.C. Keane-Loffler was organized in 1928 to take over three businesses formerly known as A. Loffler Provision Company, T.T. Keane Company, and Keane Provision Company. Together they had sales of more than $6 million annually. Gobel continued to grow through acquisition by adding two Boston firms in 1928, United Sausage and Pearl Sausage, which were expected to strengthen Gobel's market share in New England. These acquisitions helped lift Gobel's sales in 1928 to $21.2 million from $8.3 million in 1927. Similarly, net income grew from $428,485 in 1927 to $563,332 in 1928.

Gobel acquired over 96 percent of the common stock of the meatpacking company of Jacob E. Decker & Sons of Mason City, Iowa in 1929. The packing plant of Jacob E. Decker had the capacity to process 5,000 hogs per day and had branches throughout the Midwest with revenues of $16 million.

In 1929 sales for Gobel more than doubled to $46.0 million from $21.2 million in 1927. Earnings, however, fell from $563,332 in 1928 to $131,298 as the company attempted to consolidate the operations of the companies they had acquired in recent years.

Adolf Gobel sold a record 243,715,995 pounds of meat in 1930.

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