John was past President and Chair of the American Association of Cereal Chemists, a member of the Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee of the American Bakers Association, and a member of the International Nutritional Anemia Consultative Group of the World Health Organization.Well known and loved in the baking industry, John Watson had a deep concern for the welfare of the population, human nutrition, the baking industry, and the people who influenced baking and nutrition. His strongest attribute was his moral and ethical character. Involved in the science and regulatory aspects of the industry for years, he helped to shape the guidelines we have today.John was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the American Institute of Baking, serving on its Board of Trustees for many years. He was also a member of SUSTAIN (Sharing United States Technology to Aid in the Improvement of Nutrition) and a member of the Council for Responsible Nutrition.
He was past President and Chairman for Watson Inc. and founder of Polymer Films.
John’s father James J. Watson began Watson Inc. under the name Watson Flour Co. in July 1939. John joined his father & brothers in the business in 1951. In 1952, the government called John to serve in the Korean War until September 1954. Following this date, he rejoined the company holding various positions including sales and R&D functions and later became President in 1968 and Chairman in 2004.
Under John’s leadership, Watson Flour acquired Flour Enrichment Products Co. This gave Watson Flour Co. a focus on nutritional products. At about the same time, Watson began, with the cooperation of the Dow Chemical Co., to develop the first water soluble edible packaging film for packaging bakery additives and vitamins and minerals premixes. John demonstrated entrepreneurial innovation when he introduced an edible film that is used in the industry today under the name Sol-U-Pak. It provides a nearly error-free delivery mechanism for adding pre-weighed ingredients to food formulations in small quantities. The whole package goes into the batch, the free water dissolves the package, and further mixing distributes the contents evenly.
In 1982 Watson purchased the enrichment business of Stauffer Chemical Co. which they had previously purchased from Merck & Co. Sterwin Chemical (Sterwin Winthrop Drug Co.) and Nopa Laboratories (a small pharmaceutical firm in Pana, Illinois) were also purchased in 1982.
In 1986, Watson Foods Co. closed down its Woodside, NY, plant and relocated to a seven acre site in West Haven, CT, where it now has its main manufacturing facility, with manufacturing totaling 85,000 square feet and a 50,000-square-foot warehouse. Pursuing its nutritional plan further in 1992, Watson purchased Dufar’s nutritional premix division for the food industry and for USAID emergency relief programs.
John successfully transitioned the company to the third generation and instilled in his children and family the values of stewardship, humility, loyalty, honesty, a strong work ethic, and being supportive of each other and the community. These values continue to flourish today within the family and company. To reflect the diversified product line the company has since changed their name to Watson Inc.
Click on the images below to view .pdf files of the inductee’s biography and plaque.