The story of National is the story of a three-generation Jamaican homegrown family business, with roots that began in the 1930s with Reginald and Irene Hendrickson. Reginald and Irene owned a small bread bakery in Maggotty, St. Elizabeth called Paramount. As the family grew alongside their business, they decided to close Paramount in the 1940s and open a bakery in Mandeville, Manchester, which they named National.
This family business was a place where their two sons, Karl and Larry, honed their skills in the art of baking bread. When Karl went to Canada to study medicine, he took part-time jobs working in bakeries where he learned about mechanical bread making. Karl was mesmerized. He quickly realized that these first world methods could add to the development of his family’s business in Jamaica. After two years, Karl returned home. He urged his parents to open a cutting-edge baking facility in Kingston. Persuaded by his passion, they agreed. National began making soft bread mechanically in the heart of Kingston in 1952.
One innovation led to another, National became the first in Jamaica to sell bread ‘sliced and wrapped’ – a novel idea, as customers used to carry their own bags to buy whole loaves of bread. This revolutionary decision was a direct result of Karl’s belief that the needs of customers belonged at the forefront of the business.
At this time, the major mode of transportation for fresh bread was by mule-drawn carts so it was not an unfamiliar sight to see them all over the city. National quickly became a household name as Jamaicans welcomed this new type of bread with its different taste, texture, greater shelf life, conveniently sliced and packaged.
Over the next decade, Karl continued to streamline and mechanize baking operations. National expanded by opening the Biscuit & Cracker Plant, followed by the Snack Plant, where they produced another first: Jamaica’s original Cheese Trix.
Then, in the early 1970s, they acquired Hannah Town Bakery, revered for HTB Easter Bun.
In 1995, the third generation of the Hendrickson family stepped up to the plate. Karl’s eldest son, Butch, succeeded his father. Continuing his father’s legacy of innovation, Butch oversaw the upgrade and modernization of all the baking equipment, warehouses and delivery fleet.
With each expansion, National aimed to set the gold standard for freshness in the baking industry – one of the many reasons they have remained an industry leader over the last few decades. Today, National, HTB, and HoMade products appear on shelves in the UK, USA and Canada as well as many Caribbean countries. In 2010, National took a leap forward and opened a distribution center in London, followed by another in New York three years later.
As National proudly planted the Jamaican flag across the globe, the Hendricksons never forgot their roots. Through the incorporated National Baking Company Foundation (NBCF), the family aims to increase the standard of early childhood education island-wide. National is also renowned for their contribution to small Jamaican manufacturers through programs such as The Bold Ones of Manufacturing as well as A Jamaican Made Christmas.
National and the Hendrickson family walked hand-in-hand with Jamaica
on this journey to success, building it along the way, and representing it to the best of their abilities. Their well of gratitude, love and duty run deep in this likkle island and that’s why National is dedicated to making Jamaica proud.
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