Daniel Frank Gerber

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Daniel Frank Gerber
Born (1898-05-06)May 6, 1898
Fremont, Michigan
Died March 16, 1974(1974-03-16) (aged 75)
Fremont, Michigan
Occupation Baby food manufacturer
Political party
Republican
Religion Christian Scientist
Spouse(s) Dorothy Marion Scott
Children Sally Gerber
Parents Frank Daniel Gerber, Pauline Dora Platt

Daniel Frank Gerber (May 6, 1898 – March 16, 1974) was an American manufacturer of baby food.[1]

Early life[edit]

Gerber went by the name "Dan" to his friends and relatives. He was born in Fremont of Newaygo County, Michigan, in 1898, the son of Frank Daniel Gerber and Pauline Dora Platt.[1]

Mid-life[edit]

"Dan" with grandkids

Gerber was educated at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. He attended the academy from 1913 to 1916. Gerber served in the army during World War I. He then attended the Babson College of business administration from 1919 to 1920 for a year. Later in 1920 he hired in at Fremont Canning Company that his father owned.[2] He was a successful manager and by 1926 he had become assistant general manager of the company.[1]

Gerber began urging his father to begin the production of strained baby foods at the cannery in 1927. Daniel and his wife Dorothy had an ill baby called Sally. Dan's wife suggested that he persuade his father to begin making and selling at their canning company strained baby foods.[3] Gerber with his father did some extensive research on this new concept. They contacted nutritional experts, distributed many samples, and conducted market research interviews before launching their product. The idea of strained baby foods was not entirely new, but the long held American tradition was that babies generally were given a liquid diet until they were about a year old. It was risky to introduce this new concept to the marketplace as they had no idea how mothers would react to this new idea.[1]

In 1928 their canning company started an advertising campaign in Good Housekeeping, Parents Magazine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and other magazines. Their task was to convince parents to adopt new feeding concepts. The campaign worked and into the 1930s the canning company expanded its baby food lines.[1]

Later life[edit]

In the 1950s the company that Gerber was now running, since his father died in 1952, added three new plants. One in Asheville, North Carolina; one in Rochester, New York; and another in Niagara Falls, Ontario.[1]

Gerber expanded and diversified the company. He added a toy line in 1955 and had the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1956 for the first time. He also opened a Mexican subsidiary in 1959. In 1965 he added a large line of baby-related products.[1]

At Gerber's death in 1974 the company claimed it was the world's largest baby-food manufacturer.[1]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Ingham, p. 443-445
  2. ^ Ingham, p. 443 In 1920 he joined the family firm.
  3. ^ Shapiro, p. 28

Sources[edit]

  • Ingham, John N., Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders: A-G, Greenwood Press (1983); ISBN 0-3132390-7-X
  • Shapiro, Eileen C., Fad Surfing in the Boardroom: Managing in the Age of Instant Answers, Basic Books (1996), ISBN 0-2014419-5-0
  • Obituary, New York Times, March 18, 1974