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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BAKER MATERIALS HANDLlNG CO.

BAKER MATERIALS HANDLlNG CO.

The BAKER MATERIALS HANDLlNG CO. was an outgrowth of Baker-Raulang, which survived as a company by refocusing its business from the manufacture of electric cars to the production of mobile trucks and equipment for the materials-handling industry.

Baker-Raulang resulted from the merger of Rauch & Lang Carriage Co. and the Baker Motor Vehicle Co., both early Cleveland pioneers in the automotive industry. Rauch & Lang was founded by Jacob Rauch, who in the 1850s began a blacksmith and wagon shop. Upon Jacob's death in 1862, his son, Charles, took over the business which built and sold custom-made wagons and carriages. Charles E. Lang joined the firm as a partner in 1885, and Rauch and Lang expanded their line to include delivery vehicles. With the development of the horseless carriage, the company turned to the manufacture of automotive bodies, introducing its first commercially available electric car with a closed body in 1904. In the meantime, WALTER BAKER, Fred R. White, and ROLLIN C. WHITE founded the Baker Motor Vehicle Co. in 1898 to build and market electric cars. By 1907 the company had added electric load trucks to its line and within 5 years more than 200 companies were outfitted with Baker fleets.

The 2 companies merged to become Baker-Raulang in 1915, with a plant located at 2168 W. 25th St. The new firm's war contract to make industrial trucks, used to unload supplies for the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I, shaped the company's future. With the supremacy of the gasoline-powered engine, Baker-Raulang sold off its electric car division to Stevens-Duryea in 1920 and developed its line of industrial trucks, tractors, cranes, and mobile equipment for handling materials. The company was acquired by Otis Elevator Co. in 1953, and became the focal point of Otis' materials-handling division when it added the Moto-Truc Co. (1960) and the Euclid Crane & Hoist Co. (1970). In the early 1970s, Baker plants at 8000 Baker Ave., and 12401 Taft Ave., made electric motors and parts for urban transit cars. Otis merged with United Technologies in 1975, and 2 years later sold its Baker Division to Linde-Akiengesellschaft, a German lift truck manufacturer. By 1989 Baker Materials Handling was no longer in business.


See also AUTOMOTlVE INDUSTRY.