A visionary is someone who can see things as they could be. William (Bill) Ungashick was such a person. He attended the University of Notre Dame and studied aeronautical engineering. With that education, Mr. Ungashick could see a new way to transfer ingredients into the mixer.
“He had a vision for applying the physics of air handling to assist his customers in the baking industry,” said Joe Ungashick, former chief executive officer of the family business and one of Mr. Ungashick’s surviving sons.
Mr. Ungashick realized that vision by establishing Shick Engineering Co. in Kansas City, Mo., in 1956. One of his first inventions, the “baby bulk truck,” pneumatically delivered 20,000-lb loads of flour to smaller bakers, which provided these companies the benefits of bulk delivery. Mr. Ungashick added onto these systems with sifters, diverters and dust filters.
In 1959, he developed the Shick 150 Gyroflex Sifter, which provided a low profile means of sifting below a hand dump, allowing the operator to work from floor level. By the 1960s, Shick’s systems were conveying flour in many bakeries across the United States. After securing several patented designs, Shick ventured into manufacturing and became Shick Tube-Veyor Corp. with the intent of establishing pneumatic conveying as the preferred method of ingredient transfer. Many of Mr. Ungashick’s original patented designs are still being employed today.
Ever with the eye toward innovation, Mr. Ungashick led his company to devise ingredient automation for bulk flour, oil, cream yeast and sugar, as well as dry and liquid minor ingredients. But he was always experimenting, saying it was important to “strap your analytical tools to the back of any particle in motion to provide proper consideration of its critical variables.”
With this mindset, Mr. Ungashick also believed that it was Shick’s responsibility to be the ingredient engineering arm of its customers, allowing them to focus on baking while Shick handled the development and integration of their ingredient systems. Under his leadership, Shick became one of the leading providers of ingredient automation systems for bulk flour, oils, cream yeast and sugars, as well as dry and liquid minor ingredients. This allowed bakers complete recipe management.
In 1971, Mr. Ungashick’s alma mater, Notre Dame, named him Kansas City Man of the Year to honor his commitment to his community, faith and his fellow man.
“He was a strong character,” Joe Ungashick said. “Discipline and a forthright manner were going to lead. There were nine kids at home, and his style there was probably the same as it was in the office, and that was ‘let’s be very clear about who is in charge and where we were going.’ At the same time, if we were clear on that, he could ease up on that and be a bit more loving, and that developed a culture of loyalty and commitment. A lot of employees from that first group made it 35, 40 and even 50 years.”
Today Shick Esteve, under the ownership of French-based Linxis Group, carries on the legacy of Bill Ungashick, working with bakers to solve their ingredient handling needs and providing that innovative engineering arm so bakers can focus on what they do best.
This article is an excerpt from the February 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Baking Hall of Fame, click here.