How We Began- In 1951, The Pioneer Decorating Company was founded by Louise Jones Crawford and her brother Bobby Jones in Ocala, Florida. The business was started in the Crawford home, but eventually outgrew the space and in 1959 was relocated to 808 S. W. 12th Street. Louise and Bobby each had their own strong suits within the company. Louise concentrated on the sales and marketing aspects of the business, while Bobby addressed the manufacturing processes. Read More
The success of The Pioneer Decorating Company depended on many factors, but it continued because of the blending of the individual abilities of both Louise and her younger brother Bobby. Both acknowledged it could not have been done without the complimentary competence and skill of the other.
The Pioneer Decorating Company grew strong and did not go unnoticed. In the late sixties, General Mills was acquiring many different, diverse companies which presented an opportunity for Louise and Bobby to sell the business. In 1970, The Pioneer Decorating Company was purchased by General Mills. General Mills had strategically diversified their portfolio and because the food business was their core competency, The Pioneer Decorating Company fit well within their strategic parameters. In addition, this is when the Betty Crocker brand was introduced to the decorating category.
The relationship between General Mills and The Pioneer Decorating Company was a strong one, but when General Mills divested a number of businesses in 1987, Pioneer was sold to a German firm named Schwartauer Werke GmbH. Schwartauer Werke was and continues to be a leader in the German consumer packaged goods and industrial markets. It was at this time, Schwartau entered into a long-term licensing agreement to use the Betty Crocker® brand. In 1995, Schwartau’s interest in Signature Brands was sold to Hero AG of Lenzburg, Switzerland. Hero is a large global supplier of premium fruit jams and drinks, granola bars, dessert decoratings and recently has become a global supplier of infant nutrition.
As an avenue for added growth, in 1996 Pioneer Products entered a joint venture agreement with McCormick & Company to create Signature Brands, LLC becoming a global manufacturer and distributor of the Cake Mate® and Betty Crocker ® brands of dessert decorating products. In December 1999, Signature Brands, LLC continued its rapid growth with the acquisition of the PAAS® Easter Egg Decorating Company from Schering-Plough.
With the rapid growth of Signature Brands, the physical plant in Ocala, Florida required expansion and a new distribution center had to be added to service the expanded volumes.
In May 2006, Hero purchased McCormick’s 50% of Signature Brands. Joined together, Signature Brands and Hero are now the world’s leading suppliers of Dessert Decorating products with leadership in Germany, Poland, U.K., Canada, Australia and the U.S. Both have grown to this leadership position through product innovation, commitment to manufacturing, and with quality the cornerstone for all products.
Growth continues and in March 2006, Signature Brands formed a manufacturing and distribution partnership with Pumpkin Masters, LLC, adding America’s favorite pumpkin carving kits to its portfolio of products! More than 60 years ago, Paul Bardeen invented a pumpkin carving method using patterns and small saws. His children carved intricate pumpkins and carried them door-to-door to show the neighbors their creations. In 1986, as a tribute to their dad, the kids created a pumpkin carving kit to share with other families.
Pumpkin Masters, LLC sold its first pumpkin carving kit twenty years ago and our continued mission is to change the way families carve pumpkins and create products that enhance Halloween traditions. With all of the exciting growth and success of the past, Signature Brands is looking forward to exciting times ahead!
In 2008, the growth of Signature Brands continued with the purchase of Houston Harvest, creating a new line of high quality popcorn. Signature Brands Popcorn is proud to have their plant located in Ocala, FL with all materials from US farmers and manufacturers.