Made in Michiana: Carbon's Golden Malted

By: Frank Waugh Email
By: Frank Waugh Email

A local company has been helping to feed hungry breakfast goers worldwide for the past 75 years, but there is a good chance you have never heard of them.

In this week's Made in Michiana, Carbon's Golden Malted, a company that's seeing new growth thanks to an old favorite.

From the Vegas Strip, to Disney World, to the Perkins down the street, Carbon's Waffles and Waffle Makers can be found.

“Most people who have probably had a waffle have probably had our product but just don't know it,” says President and CEO Rick McKeel.

The company got started back in the 1930’s in Buchanan, Michigan, making pancake flour mix. In the 60s the company created an industrial grade waffle maker. Combining the two pushed the company forward.

“In the late 1960’s he created the marketing concept that said we are going to give you the machine if you use my product, and that is when the business exploded,” says McKeel. “We still do that today, what has changed is the technology of the equipment,” says “Before it used to have a manual bell timer, today it has and automatic start countdown timer. So the cook and the people using it can see how much longer it has before it is done. It is half the weight it used to be, it weighs about 25 pounds compared to 45 pounds

Today the machines are assembled right here in South Bend and shipped all over the world.

“We are developing new international distributers every single day,” says McKeel. “We added 8 new distributers last year, we have already added four new ones this year and with Dubai being one of the most exciting ones that we have added and so we think there is a tremendous opportunity there but certainly aggressive growth which means a lot of expansion and hopefully it creates more jobs.”

With more growth comes a need for more elbow room.

“We are going to move, to a larger facility, we have outgrown this facility,” says McKeel. “But the plans are to stay in South Bend, we are in need of about 60,000 to 80,000 square feet and we are in about 40 now and we are busting at the seams.”

Part of that space will be used for breaking down and reconditioning greasy, well used machines. An oven and sandblaster remove the coating before slick new Teflon is reapplied. Each and every oven is inspected and tested before being shipped back out.

From Leprechauns to Boiler Makers, this Michiana company is making irons for just about everybody, and as the company grows, you might be seeing more of them, on the road.

“The food truck has been really really great, South Bend has been our test market,” explains the VP of Retail Sales and Marketing Becky Beckman. “So it is a new unique thing for the South Bend market because you don't see food trucks around here.”

The king of breakfast cuisine is taking the show on the road, proving that waffles go beyond breakfast.

“You can get chicken and waffles, you might get a pulled pork waffle sandwich, Philly cheese steak, and we have been doing some really delicious cheesecake waffles, and that has been one of our biggest sellers,” explains Beckman.

Unique creations like this might soon be coming to a street near you.

“It is an exciting adventure, it is something that we are going to be looking for people to potentially franchise at some point, if there is an opportunity to licensing of a potential truck like this,” says McKeel. “We are looking for people who are interested in starting their own business. I think there is a lot of opportunity for somebody to get into that type of situation. That was kind of our vision for it along with educating people on this whole waffle sandwich concept. That is really an exciting part of our business now and so from that standpoint it looks like the future is bright in that area and so we are going to continue to push that and see where it goes.”

Carbon's Golden Malted employs 178 people and estimates that their products are responsible for about 80 million waffles a year.

And while you can't buy one of their industrial grade waffle makers, you can buy their mix from their website.

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