CHICAGO — In today’s commercial baking landscape, success requires a marriage of tradition and innovation … and that demands a modern approach to the baker-supplier relationship.

For four decades, Rademaker, a Netherlands-based global supplier of bakery automation equipment, has provided solutions to North American bakery operators through Rademaker USA, based in Hudson, OH. As the industry evolves post-pandemic, Rademaker USA is further expanding its North American presence by opening its state-of-the-art Rademaker Experience Center, which celebrated its ribbon cutting this week in Chicago.

“Besides the fact we’re celebrating the opening of a new premises, we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rademaker USA,” said Jeroen van Blokland, owner and former CEO of Rademaker. “It makes me realize how important it is to maintain a successful partnership between customer and supplier. We’re looking forward to this new and exciting chapter in this Chicago extension.”

With a sizeable impact of the company’s global sales happening in North America, Rademaker recognized the need for more access to equipment with shorter lead times and the ability to test and validate the equipment in North America. Discussions were taking place on North American expansion prior to the global pandemic, but 2020 accelerated these discussions and plans.

“Things started percolating with the pandemic and the loss of access to our parent company,” said Eric Riggle, president of Rademaker USA. “It became apparent that we needed to commit to this market more directly.”

With support from the parent company, Rademaker USA has embarked on a journey to create a space for innovation, education and partnership, where bakers can ideate for new products, address production challenges, and collaborate with technical experts and sales representatives on new or existing projects.

“With every customer I talk to, the conversation is about speed to market,” Riggle said. “We’re discussing how fast we can start up a line or speed up a tooling changeover, or how fast we can help them get a product into the pipeline. That’s what this facility is all about.”


Technology, people advancement

The 50,000-square-foot facility will house a variety of equipment technology based on Rademaker’s Radini equipment platform, which is designed for producing high-quality artisan breads, pastries, pizzas, donuts, and flatbreads at high speeds in small- to mid-size production spaces.

Understanding that dough makeup is only part of the process, the Rademaker team tapped into partnerships throughout the industry to incorporate every aspect of bakery production to create a full test line, from mixing to oven.

“We have all the equipment to ‘complete the circuit,’ if you will,” Riggle said. “This will enable customers to do testing that will help them fully understand how our equipment integrates with the rest of the line.”

The Center’s Chicago location not only supports a large geographic concentration of bakers but also allows access to resources like raw materials and a robust talent pool.

To help the company achieve goals such as solving supply chain challenges, Joseph Niziolek joined the Rademaker USA team as operations manager to streamline the manufacturing process for equipment like the Radini line.

With a career emphasis on operations and logistics in general manufacturing, Niziolek is versed in problem-solving for supply chain challenges with operational startups.

“[Rademaker USA] business is growing very quickly, and we need to establish a more local supply chain,” Niziolek said. “This way, North America can be a ‘hub’ of its own for production here.”

As the operation grows in Chicago, Rademaker USA will focus first on building up its spare parts supply and then, ultimately, have the resources to manufacture and assemble the equipment in the US.

“The goal is to get the equipment and spare parts into the customers’ hands quicker.” — Eric Riggle | president | Rademaker USA


“The goal is to get the equipment and spare parts into the customers’ hands quicker,” Riggle said. Once we build up that supply chain, we’ll be closer to delivering on a 10- to 12-week lead time for products like Radini.”

Efforts to streamline supply chain are no simple task. As Rademaker USA celebrates its 40th anniversary, what was once a small team of individuals wearing several hats has grown into specific areas of expertise, including Niziolek and Hemali Penchal, who recently joined as CFO.

“When any company grows, the financial side becomes more complicated,” Riggle said. “We have new purchasing angles and complexities that come with setting up a new supply chain. With that, we needed to rework the finance department, and that started with Hemali. She’s fluent in several types of financial software and has the ability to create that financial infrastructure we need to support this level of growth.”

In addition to experience in the Canadian manufacturing sector, Penchal has an extensive background in the North American banking industry, providing a breadth and depth of understanding for the financial implications of growth.

“I have always been passionate about industries that combine innovation and tradition,” Penchal said. “The bakery industry has that perfect combination, as well as contributing to people’s daily lives. And with Rademaker’s advancements in technology, this is a perfect opportunity for me.”

Automating artisan

While the resulting efficiencies in Rademaker’s supply chain will allow for shorter lead times, Radini’s technological advancements provide the capability to produce up to 2,500 pounds of dough an hour for operators with smaller footprints.

That means more artisan baked goods can penetrate the US market, which means growth opportunities for smaller producers in terms of product development.

To help those bakers, Spencer Hendrickson, dough technologist for Rademaker, is available in the Customer Experience Center for testing and demonstrations. This includes not only optimizing current equipment needs for existing customers but also discovering new opportunities for product development that can be made using Rademaker equipment.


Additionally, Amy Estrada has been named as a brand manager for Rademaker, specifically focusing on the Radini line. Estrada spent two years with Rademaker as project engineer for systems integration and understands the company and technology.

“While we are focused on serving the needs of our current customers, we also need to focus  on generating awareness for equipment like the Radini and the overall brand identity,” Riggle said. “We are committed to this because it’s a big part of our growth.”

With the startup of the Radini line, Riggle expects it to be primarily used for customer testing, allowing them to experience the machine’s full capabilities. But Rademaker also welcomes new and existing customers of all sizes to enjoy the space for any number of reasons. In fact, some larger customers have expressed interest in using the facility as a test site for their own product development, while others are simply taking advantage of the central location and proximity to Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

“This is a place where our customers can easily come see us,” Riggle said. “We’re 12 minutes from O’Hare, so our customers can easily come by and get educated on what we’re doing, or they can simply use the office space to get caught up on some work. They can even have meetings here if they want to.”

Ultimately, the Customer Experience Center, in addition to the headquarters facility in Northeast Ohio, will not only support Rademaker USA’s burgeoning business but also position the company for growth and innovation — together with its customers — well into the future.

For more information on the new facility and the company’s equipment capabilities, visit the Rademaker website.