In 1915, R.P. Baker and several other Irish immigrants founded the Minnesota Chemical Co. in St. Paul as a local manufacturer of soaps and cleaning compounds. The company, located at 2285 Hampden Ave. in St. Anthony Park, celebrated its 100th anniversary in May.
Since its founding, it has grown to a regional company that provides equipment and supplies to the laundry, dry cleaning and coin laundry industries. The company is still owned and managed by the same family that established it in 1915 as a soap and cleaning compound manufacturer, working out of a small building at 2207 Wycliff Ave. The company’s founders were attracted to the Midway area because of its proximity to the Minnesota Transfer Railroad’s hub and the presence of meat-processing plants in the area, which provided a critical component in soap manufacturing—beef tallow.
Minnesota Chemical Co. moved to its current location on Hampden Avenue in 1937. After R.P. Baker died in 1943, his sons, Robert, Dan and John, took over.
The company opened a sales office and warehouse in Milwaukee in 1952. Ten years later, the company opened another office in Waverly, Iowa. In 1985, the “Baker boys” retired together, transitioning the company to their sons—the new “Baker boys”—Mike (John’s son), Steve and Dan (Robert’s two sons).
A fourth generation of Bakers (Mike’s son James) is now working for the company. The Minnesota Chemical Co. provides products to businesses in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. If you want to read more about Minnesota Chemical and its history, it has posted a number of centennial celebration stories on its website at minnesotachemical.com/Blog/Looking-Back.