Alpha Baking ahead of the curve with latest alternative energy effort

by Dan Malovany
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When it comes to passion, few people can match Bob McGuire’s desire to rally the baking industry behind alternative energy for fueling its vehicles. During the past seven years, Mr. McGuire, vice-president and director of logistics at Chicago-based Alpha Baking Co., tested the limits of technology by tinkering with hydrogen-fuel systems, biodiesel and even recycled vegetable oil as alternatives to gasoline and diesel for its fleet.

Earlier this month, Alpha Baking officially became the first baking company to operate a fleet of Autogas liquid propane trucks, with 22 stepvans in the Chicagoland area. Based at North Aurora, Ill., this fleet — the nation’s only Ford/Roush propane powered stepvan fleet — will save 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year.

Why did Alpha Baking do it? Mr. McGuire explained that American-made propane creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gasses and could eventually cut the nation’s dependency on foreign oil. Sure, he acknowledged, Alpha Baking is ahead of the curve and the infrastructure needs to be developed before alternative fuels become more commonplace. But such concerns never stop someone with a true passion for the cause.

“It’s not about R.O.I.,” he said. “It’s about doing the right thing.”

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