Don Lummus worked his way through Texas A&M as an oilfield roughneck during his summer breaks. After graduating in 1958 with a Petroleum Engineering degree, Don worked for Exxon-Mobil. From 1962 through 1964 Don attended The Harvard Business School and then held staff and management positions with two major oilfield equipment manufacturers.
Don purchased an interest in Stewart Systems in Richardson, TX in 1972 from Mrs. Ann Stewart and became its President. Stewart’s primary products were conveyors for baked goods. Don and his team set out to expand the product offerings with the goal of providing turnkey production lines. These efforts accelerated in 1977 with Stewart’s acquisition of the Middleby Marshall Oven Company in Morton Grove, IL and the simultaneous licensing of the “Jet-Sweep” baking technology. The Jet Sweep technology was initially developed for small ovens used in retail pizza shops. However, Stewart soon designed patented continuous flow ovens and proofers utilizing the Jet Sweep process, along with center chain drives and “floating” magnetic grids for use in large baking lines. These advances, and the inclusion of quotes from other manufacturers, enabled Stewart to successfully bid on complete turnkey systems on an international scale.
In 1983, with sales at six times their 1972 level, Don and Mrs. Stewart opted to sell the company. The Middleby Marshall division was sold to TMC, an over the counter shell corporation. Don purchased a stake in TMC, now renamed The Middleby Corporation, and joined the board of directors. The Stewart Systems division was sold to Mrs. Stewart’s son, Wayne, whose father, Harold “Chick” Stewart, founded Stewart Engineering. During the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980’s Don repurchased Wayne’s stock, arranged additional financing and became CEO.
Don retired from the board of the Middleby Corporation in 2008, after serving more than 30 years as a director of Middleby and its predecessor companies. During his career Don also held directorships in the American Baker’s Association and the Bakery Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, as well as numerous civic organizations.
In 2012 Stewart Systems was purchased by the Middleby Corporation. Today Middleby has annual sales of $2.7 billion and a market capitalization of over $6.0 billion. Through its Baking Innovation Center, housed in the Stewart Systems Plano, TX facility, The Middleby Corporation remains in the forefront of baking technology development.