East Balt Roma, Monterotondo, Italy, represents one of the latest additions to the Chicago-based company’s long history and commitment to the global baking industry. In fact, it currently operates 21 bakeries in 11 countries.
East Balt’s roots date to 1939, when Louis Kuchuris acquired a bankrupt bakery that produced a line of bread, rolls, buns and pastries in Chicago. In 1955, the direction of the business changed forever when Mr. Kuchuris agreed by shaking hands with founder Ray Kroc to begin supplying buns to Chicago-area McDonald’s restaurants.
In 2012, the family bakery was acquired by One Equity Partners, the private investment arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Under the leadership of Mark Bendix, chief executive officer of East Balt, the company continued to expand, purchasing The Wendy’s Co.’s Zanesville, Ohio-based bakery business, known as The New Bakery Co., to bolster its position as one of the leading suppliers of buns and baked goods to the quick-service restaurant and food service industry.
East Balt recently signed an agreement to be acquired by Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest baking company based in Mexico City. Mr. Bendix noted there is very little overlap where the two companies currently operate.
“The combination between East Balt and Grupo Bimbo provides exceptional new business opportunities, including broad product capabilities, custom sandwich carriers in the food service channel and expanded global reach,” he said.
The two companies also share a common bond. Founders of both businesses have been inducted into the American Society of Baking’s Hall of Fame.
In 2007, Grupo Bimbo’s Lorenzo and Roberto Servitje became part of the Hall of Fame while Mr. Kuchuris was inducted in 2009.