Meeting mixing needs
by Charlotte Atchley
As the founder of a household name among bakers, Donald Shaffer’s impact on mixers and automated dough development continue to be felt throughout the commercial baking industry. For his contribution to baking in the form of his horizontal mixing technology, Mr. Shaffer will be inducted into the ASB’s Baking Hall of Fame.
Mr. Shaffer got his start in the baking industry after returning to the US from his service in the US Navy during World War II. His career began in 1948 with Peerless. From draftsman, he worked his way up to executive vice-president and general manager. Mr. Shaffer left Peerless to work with BE/W in 1973. After BE/W was no more, he decided to strike out on his own and founded Shaffer Manufacturing Corp. in 1986. With the help of his sons, Mike and Dave Shaffer, Mr. Shaffer built up Shaffer Manufacturing Corp. until Bundy Baking Solutions acquired the mixing company in 2007. Mr. Shaffer passed away in April 2013, but his name continues to be a leader in mixers, something he expected when he first gave the name Shaffer to his company.
Mr. Shaffer worked in equipment manufacturing during a time of great technological advancement. During his 60-year career, his designs were on the forefront, improving mixing times, dough development, energy consumption, sanitation and durability. Today open-frame equipment design is becoming ubiquitous, but Mr. Shaffer first applied the concept to his horizontal dough mixer. By using all stainless steel and an open design on his mixers, Mr. Shaffer made mixers — a typically messy piece of machinery on the bakery floor — easier to access for cleaning and maintenance, which not only became easier but also was needed less often with agitators, bowls and other components made with solid stainless-steel construction.
Mr. Shaffer also had a major impact on dough temperature, a critical variable in dough development. He was awarded a patent for his cooling jackets for high-capacity horizontal mixers. These jackets made dough temperature easier to control at a commercial level, ensuring better dough consistency.
Mr. Shaffer’s dual-drive, all stainless and open-frame horizontal dough mixers combined the proven mixing technology of the past with new technology such as a unique bowl and agitator shape, weight verification on ingredients and programmable control that automated ingredient feeding and mixing. These improvements achieved shorter mix times, colder doughs and faster development to the industry.
Beyond Mr. Shaffer’s contribution to baking technology, he also cared for the industry he served. Known for an outgoing personality, a personal investment in the business he served was important to him. When he first got his start, a baker approached him needing a mixer but with no cash to purchase one. Believing in the baker and his product, Mr. Shaffer sold the mixer with a monthly payment plan that the baker fulfilled. Mr. Shaffer’s belief in people in that moment did not go unrewarded. When Mr. Shaffer started Shaffer Manufacturing Corp., that same baker returned to purchase 10 mixers. In the end, Mr. Shaffer sold him 35 mixers, a testament to his ability to understand and meet people’s needs. This ability informed his equipment designs. Mr. Shaffer’s investment went beyond one lucky baker, however. He gave freely of himself to the baking industry as a member of ASB, AIB International, BEMA and other industry organizations throughout his career.
Mr. Shaffer’s contributions to baking continue to be felt as his mixer technology reverberates in the industry, improving dough development and ensuring food safety for consumers.