LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, FLA. — Robert W. Entenmann, grandson of the founder of Entenmann’s, Inc. and former chairman of the company, died Sept. 15 at his home in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. He was 88 years old.

Robert Entenmann
Robert W. Entenmann, former chairman of Entenmann’s, Inc.

Born in 1928, Mr. Entenmann was the oldest of three brothers (Charles and William), and began at the company by working in sales.

When his father, William Entenmann Jr., died of a heart attack in 1951, his widow, Martha, and William, Charles and Robert made changes that helped set in motion rapid growth over the next three decades.

Seeking to tap into growth in baked goods sales at supermarkets and facing a shift away from retail bakeries, the family phased out its bread business and delivery routes. Instead, the company focused on the baking and wholesale distribution of pastries and cakes to the growing number of supermarket chains serving New York City and its suburbs.

Having incorporated in 1958, the company was headed by Robert, Charles and William, as chairman of the board and chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer and executive vice-president, respectively. Martha was a vice-president of the company.

Rather than expanding as an independent company, the family sold the business in 1978 to Warner-Lambert Co., one of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical and consumer products companies, in a transaction valued at $230 million. The company subsequently changed hands several times over the years and currently is owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA.

Even after his time as chairman, Mr. Entenmann continued as a consultant for the company until he was about 80.

In the late 1970s he purchased a potato farm and transformed it into a thoroughbred race farm. Over the years the potato farms began to give way to vineyards, and in the mid-1990s he planted grape vines on his 200-acre property in Jamesport, N.Y., and founded Martha Clara Vineyards, named for his mother.

Survivors include his former wife, Mary; a daughter, Jacqueline; a son, Robert; and a brother, Charles.