The futurist: Arlen Don Lummus

During his 30-year career, Arlen Don Lummus was always prepared to tackle the challenges no one saw coming. His ability to serve customers’ immediate needs and anticipate their future dilemmas made him an essential partner to bakers across the world while his prowess helped usher in a new era of technology.

In 1971, Mr. Lummus got his start in the industry as president and co-owner of commercial baking equipment manufacturer Stewart Engineering, now known as Stewart Systems, a Middleby Bakery Group company. There, he led a turnaround that included Stewart’s successful acquisition of Middleby-Marshall Oven Co. in 1976 and the introduction of cutting-edge solutions that helped bakers serve the growing fast food industry.

From conveyorized systems to pan technology, Mr. Lummus engineered groundbreaking equipment for bakeries that were trying to keep up with Americans’ penchant for takeaway items like burgers. With Stewart’s conveyor capability as a base, he developed cutting-edge designs for high-speed lines that allowed for production rates of 1,200 buns per minute compared with 800 buns per minute, helping operations increase output and sales.

In addition, Mr. Lummus ensured that Stewart could become a turnkey supplier by rolling out other line technologies.

“He acquired the designs necessary for his company to develop the industry standard for bun and bread depanners, coolers and pillow pack equipment,” said Bill Zimmerman Sr., former president and c.e.o., The Long Co., Chicago. “From a production manufacturing perspective, the throughput efficiency of these systems is without equal. His innovative vision gave Stewart the foothold they needed to move into the global baking industry.”

Under Mr. Lummus’ guidance, Stewart became a key partner for bakeries seeking to serve McDonald’s during its expansion into Europe and Asia in the 1990s. He helped bun manufacturers quickly establish business abroad by overseeing the tight start-up dates McDonald’s demanded and delivering equipment that could keep up with the chain’s growth.

John Petenes, former president and chief operating officer of East Balt, Inc., Chicago, explained that Mr. Lummus’ foresight and Stewart’s advanced equipment encouraged the bakery to partner with the supplier on 20 global installations.

“He did an outstanding job building an organization with a rapid response mentality on a global basis, which is not easy,” he said. “Our new plants were well received by McDonald’s, and our company won many new contracts as a result of the new design concepts.”

By showing bakers how to improve their operations in America and expand overseas, Mr. Lummus helped make Stewart the powerhouse it is today as part of the Middleby. After acquiring Stewart, Middleby used the Stewart capabilities as a base to develop its evolving collection of bakery equipment companies, which now includes eight manufacturers it has purchased over the course of six years.

“As impressive as all of these accomplishments are, the real mastery comes from Mr. Lummus’ ability to lead and inspire his business partners, customers, and most importantly, the associates he has led through the years,” said Rowdy Brixey, president and c.e.o. of Brixey Engineering, Inc. “Even though he is now retired, his legacy lives on and has left an indelible mark on the baking industry.”

Click through to read about  Arthur Trausch Sr. and Arthur Trausch Jr.