Dick Baker

Lenah Valley in 1920, when Dick Baker was beginning to build up his business (AOT, PH30/1/2640)

Richard David (Dick) Baker AO (190894), the 'Milk King', as a teenager helped his father in their Lenah Valley dairy. An excellent businessman, Baker built up the business, and by 1960 was the only Tasmanian milk vendor, with a monopoly in sales and a statewide organisation. That year Metropolitan Dairies, Melbourne's biggest milk distributor, made an offer Baker could not refuse; he joined their board and remained Tasmanian managing director, buying various food companies, including Lactos cheesemakers and Cripps bakery.

The company, renamed Consolidated Foods, was inefficiently run, except in Tasmania, and after Baker retired in 1973, it made a loss. In 1974 Baker recruited shareholders, reformed the company and within six months made a profit. He finally retired in 1977. Baker assisted many community groups, and passionately enjoyed horse-racing.

Further reading: C Phillips, Dick Baker AO, Cygnet, 1999.

Wayne Smith