The storied history of The Belden Brick Company is one of American entrepreneurship, invention & innovation and a family’s unyielding dedication to excellence in the art of brick making.
Our company’s story officially begins in 1885 when our founder, Henry S Belden organized the Diebold Fire Brick Company on the Belden farm. Henry was born in Canton, Ohio on July 4th, 1840, the son of Judge G.W. Belden.
Henry became an attorney in the law firm of Belden & McKinley, of which Judge G.W. Belden was the senior partner. Incidentally, according to the biography of William McKinley by Margaret Leech, she describes McKinley’s visit to Canton in1867, armed with a letter of introduction to Judge G.W. Belden, as the Belden law firm was well known in legal circles. William McKinley was accepted as a partner and then went on to become a US Congressman, Governor of Ohio and was elected President of the United States in 1896.
Henry S Belden also entered politics and was elected Mayor of Canton. At the age of 32 a severe throat infection forced him to move to the Belden farm with the hope that the open air would improve his health, which it eventually did. Now on the farm, Henry discovered large deposits of coal, shale and clay. He built a small kiln to study the effects of firing temperatures on clay and shale. In 1874 he invented the Belden burner, made of clay, which gave better light than any other type then in use. He held a total of 13 patents for gasoline vapor street lights. He secured a large number of contracts for lighting cities and towns all across the United States.
In 1876 Henry went to the Centennial fair in Philadelphia and there saw the original stiff mud brick making machine.
He became inspired to make paving and fire brick. Henry’s paving brick was the first known use of paving brick in the city of Canton. Brick pavements then spread quickly throughout the county and state.
In August of 1895, stockholders of the Diebold Fire Brick Company incorporated the Canton Pressed Brick Company as the successor company to the Diebold Fire & Brick Company.
Officers of the new company: Henry S. Belden, President; C.J. Diebold, Vice President; James G. Barbour, Secretary/Treasurer; S.J. Allen, Superintendent. The first annual meeting of the Canton Pressed Brick Company was held in 1896. Henry Belden worked hard to organize the company and to equip their plant for the kind of brick that he knew how to make. He was determined to hold on to what he had. The Company’s affairs were not stable.
What the Canton Pressed Brick Company needed was fresh capital to operate their plant. In 1904 when Paul Belden, Henry’s youngest son, heard about his father’s financial troubles he immediately returned to Canton. His friend, P.D. Hardy went along to see if his own business experience might be helpful. They arrived in Canton in 1904 and began to pick up the ruins of the Canton Pressed Brick Company. Paul Belden would clearly learn that the company needed operating capital.
Pictured below from left to right :: Top Row :: Henry Belden, L.B. Hartung, Paul w. Hartung, Sr., Paul Belden, Sr., Paul Belden, Jr., William H. Belden, Sr., Paul w. Hartung, Jr., Richard Belden, Bottom Row :: John Belden, William H. Belden, Jr., Robert f. Belden, Brian Belden, Robert T. Belden, Bradley H. Belden, Julia Belden, and John Streb.
In 1909, Paul Belden was authorized to obtain any capital needed to operate the business. Paul Belden met with L. B. Hartung, a well known plumbing contractor in Canton. Mr. Belden was successful in persuading Mr. Hartung to invest money in capital stock of the Canton Pressed Brick Company. In 1909, L.B. Hartung became an important shareholder owning about 30% of the capital stock.
Paul Belden was elected to the position of General Manager in 1911 and from that time on, had a free hand in running the company. He was known throughout the brick industry for his accomplishments and received national recognition.
One story has it that he was riding a train through Perry County, Ohio. The train passed an abandoned brick plant, and Paul noticed that the brick stored in the yard was a very appealing shade of red. Paul contacted the bank and found out the plant was in default of the mortgage payment. He wanted the plant and obtained it on very good terms. This eventually became the Somerset Plant of the Belden Brick Company.
The annual meeting of the Canton Pressed Brick Company in 1912 showed that Paul Belden had achieved his goal of obtaining the badly needed capital for operations. At the same meeting, due to P.D. Hardy’s failing health, Henry Belden was once again elected President of the Canton Pressed Brick Company. W.W. Irwin was a well known Canton businessman, and the Board of Directors believed that his election as an officer and director would bring prestige to the Canton Pressed Brick Company. The company filed a request with the Secretary of the State of Ohio asking for permission to consolidate all of their operations under a new name. A certificate of consolidation was received on October 30, 1912 that made it official. The company would now operate under the name of The Belden Brick Company.
At the annual stockholders meeting in 1913, W.W. Irwin was elected President, Henry Belden Vice President, Paul Belden Secretary/General Manager and P.W. Hartung Treasurer.
In 1915 the directors approved the building of two new kilns and a new dryer at the Canton plant to handle increased business. In 1916 the Company had a good stock of finished brick on hand, which was expected to be very profitable when the building season opened up in the spring. Paul Belden then told the board that every operation in their plants that could be done by machinery should be done that way. The directors backed his recommendation. At the annual meeting of stockholders in 1918, Paul Belden described some of the problems they were experiencing in trying to operate their plants in wartime. Labor and material for plant maintenance were expensive and almost impossible to come by. Both the Canton and Somerset plants were now closed down because the company could not get rail cars for coal to burn brick or rail cars to ship brick. Still, Paul remained optimistic. He believed that the building era following the war would bring a staggering demand for brick.
In 1918, the directors of The Belden Brick Company realized there were financial problems at the Belden Face Brick Company located at Port Washington. The Belden Face Brick Company was a personal venture of Henry Belden.
In July 1918, the directors of The Belden Brick Company authorized the treasurer to loan Belden Face Brick Company as much money as it needed, in exchange for bonds to be held as collateral. Then in October 1919, Belden Brick purchased stock in the Belden Face Brick Company and by 1920 they held shares in the amount of more than twice the money that they had loaned Belden Face Brick. Now Belden Face Brick again had a strong sales force for their product. The Belden Brick Company now had a continuing source of face brick on which they were paid a good commission.
They were also receiving a healthy return on their stock investment. W.W. Irwin had been ill for some time and retired as President. Once again, Henry Belden was President of Belden Brick Company. His appointment was short-lived. Henry Belden died on April 21, 1920 after a brief illness. By late 1922 The Belden Brick Company held a controlling interest in The Belden Face Brick Company.
After Henry’s death, W.W. Irwin sold all of his stock in the company. This left two vacancies on the Board of Directors. On July 28, 1920, L.B. Hartung was elected President of the company and B.C. Holwick was made Vice President.
At the close of World War I, the Belden management started an aggressive program to modernize their plants for increased production. They now owned plants at Canton, Somerset and Uhrichsville, Ohio. They also held the controlling interest in Belden Face Brick Company at Port Washington. With these four plants they hoped to capture a good share of the postwar market for building brick. As the company continued to expand its facilities, production rose steadily.
Management still looked to broaden their product line. Belden Floor Brick was one of the products they decided to promote and it was very successful. Their most successful product born of the depression was Belden Acid Proof Brick. The shale at the Somerset plant was ideally suited for making an acid proof brick of high quality and acid brick soon became a favorite of the industry.
Belden Brick Corporate Office, Tuscarawas and High Street Canton, Ohio 1922
The year of 1930 was an important one for The Belden Brick Company. In March 1930 The Belden-Stark Brick Company of Detroit was incorporated as a joint venture of The Belden Brick Company and Stark Ceramics Inc. for the purpose of promoting and distributing Belden Brick and Stark Ceramic products in the Detroit area.
This was followed in June 1930 by the incorporation of The Belden-Stark Brick Corporation of New York to do the same thing in the New York metropolitan area. These two subsidiary companies were to play a large part in the promotion of clay products and in obtaining architectural specifications for The Belden Brick Company.
The sale of Acid proof brick was a lucrative business venture, and the company was proud of its achievements. It was a useful diversification during the depression and an important factor in keeping Belden in operation during World War II. The Belden Brick Company began to come out of the depression about 1936. In 1936 The Belden Face Brick Company became the Port Washington plant of The Belden Brick Company. By 1939, the economy had shown signs of improvement due to the national defense effort. During these years several personnel changes occurred within the Belden Management. At a special meeting in 1935, the Board of Directors elected Paul Belden Sr., President and General Manager.
War broke out in Europe in September 1939. Large orders for war material began to pour into U.S. steel plants and other essential industries. Building brick was not considered essential to the war effort, and could not get priorities except on small orders. Most plants operated at minimum levels or were forced to shut down completely. Once again, The Belden Brick Company benefited from their line of acid proof brick and tile. Steel mills needed them for their pickling lines and the government needed steel for the war. Unlike stainless steel, acid proof clay didn’t require valuable alloy needed for other war material. The few brick companies making acid proof brick and tile got priorities for these orders, with material and labor preferences.
It was not long before the War Production Board realized that face brick actually were essential to the war effort. Buildings had to be re-built. Wood was in short supply and highly impractical to use. Supplies of sheet steel were critical. The ban on brick sales was lifted, and many priority-building permits were issued bringing back the need for face brick. Belden Brick would more than break even in spite of wartime restrictions on their operations.
The year 1946 was an important year for Belden Brick. At a meeting of the Board of Directors, the following officers were elected: Paul B. Belden, Sr., Chairman of the Board; Paul B. Belden, Jr., President; P.W. Hartung, Sr., First Vice President in charge of sales and service; and William H. Belden, Treasurer.
Paul Belden Sr.’s sons grew up with the brick business. They could have no superior mentor to their father. The continual growth of The Belden Brick Company shows how well they learned their lessons. Paul Belden had his plants back in operation by the end of 1946. His goal was to re-establish the company as soon as possible to gain the post-war market. At this critical time in the Company’s history, once again opportunity came knocking.
Now the war was over and the Finzers were faced with a major rehabilitation job. Plant No. 2 needed extensive repairs. Charles Finzer and Paul Belden were close friends. In 1945, Charles Finzer met with Paul Belden to discuss the possibility of Belden Brick taking over the Finzer Brothers Company. The Finzers wanted their plants to go to a reputable company that would have the best interests of their employees and of the people of Sugarcreek at heart. Charles and Ed Finzer knew The Belden Brick Company was the ideal choice if the details could be worked out. Paul Belden liked the idea and in May of 1946 Belden took possession of the Finzer Brothers Clay Company.
The newly acquired Finzer Plant (No.2) had two very high stacks, surrounded by 20 large beehive kilns that were intended to cycle in rotation.
Theoretically, some kilns would be charging, some burning, and others cooling at any particular time. This would create maximum production with a minimum labor force. One benefit in purchasing The Finzer Brothers Company was a vein of coal, and large deposits of very good clay. The coal seam supplied fuel for the kilns and Finzer Brothers had also sold coal locally, a practice that Belden continued for several years. By putting these plants into operation as quickly as possible the company began to see immediate results.
In 1955 the Belden management showed their confidence in their company’s future by starting construction of a new plant at Sugarcreek. It would be the largest plant in the country for the production of face brick and building tile. The plant went into operation in 1957. It is now known as Plant 6. Paul Belden found Sugarcreek to be a community of fair and cooperative people. The supply of raw material was plentiful and of excellent quality. Transportation facilities were good; in addition to rail shipments there were two trucking companies that served their plants. They had a good working force, and the Company’s policies toward their employees were well received by the community.
Following his graduation from Bowling Green State University in the spring of 1958, David L. Hartung, the younger son of Paul W. Hartung, Sr., was employed by The Belden Brick Company as a kiln foreman at the Canton Plant in Waco working under the direction of Bill Hallas, plant superintendent. In 1960, he moved into the headquarters office in Canton and began to assist in the customer service department where he posted inventory and spoke with customers regarding orders for Sugarcreek Plants 6 & 4.
Building upon the abundance of raw material and an outstanding labor pool, Belden’s plant No. 8 went into operation in May of 1968. It was the largest brick plant ever built under one roof. Paul Belden Senior died on February 13, 1970. He had been Chairman of the Board of The Belden Brick Company since 1946. In April 1970, the Board of Directors held an organizational meeting. The directors elected the following officers: Paul B. Belden, Jr., Chairman of the Board; William H. Belden, Sr., President; and Paul W. Hartung Jr., Vice President. David Hartung was elected Assistant Secretary for the corporation and continued in that role until 1996 when he was elected as Corporate Secretary succeeding Bruce Strouse, who retired in January that year. In the customer service area, he became the Production and Service Manager for Sugarcreek Plant 6, a position he currently holds.
Dan and Richard were the two youngest sons of Paul B. Belden Sr. In 1973 The Belden Brick Company acquired the assets, properties and manufacturing facilities of the Moomaw Brothers at Sugarcreek. The Shepfer-Moomaw plant was designated as plant No. 9 by Belden although they only had eight operating plants. Canton plant No. 1, which was the original Belden plant was closed down in June 1970.
In March of 1974 Belden Brick had purchased Stark’s interest in the jointly owned Detroit Sales Office. The company was also negotiating with Stebbins Manufacturing the sale of the Urichsville Plant. Stebbins was the major customer of that facility. In mid-1977, the Company was approached by Stark Ceramics with regard to the purchase of Stark’s equity in the Belden-Stark Brick Corporation of New York.
In January, Fred Morrow retired after 55 years of service. Bruce Strouse was elected Secretary of the Company shortly after Mr. Morrow’s retirement. At the time, only Paul B. Belden, Sr., served the Company longer than Fred Morrow. In April, the Company purchased the old Claycraft Plant plus 140 acres on the south side of Route 39 on the east end of Sugarcreek.
The Board of Directors approved the construction of a new plant featuring a deBoer B-11 brick machine capable of producing 42 million standard brick equivalent annually in a simulated handmade molded brick configuration. This plant is now known as Plant 3.
On September 12, 1974, The Belden Brick Company acquired the Strasburg Brick Company of Strasburg, Ohio. Their principal product was face brick in red and other colors. The Belden Brick Company added a packaging machine and considered adding another tunnel kiln if needed. Belden’s sales organization and agents gave Strasburg’s products a widening distribution.
In December of 1976, the following directors comprised the board of Belden Brick: Paul B. Belden, Jr., William H. Belden, Sr., Daniel M. Belden, Richard F. Belden, Paul W. Hartung, Jr., and Burke B. Wentz. Larry Myers, whose family had owned the Strasburg Brick Company, was named Assistant General Superintendent to Burke Wentz.
At the Annual Meeting in April, Paul B. Belden III and William H. Belden, Jr., were elected to the Board of Directors for the first time. They were the first representatives of the fourth generation of the family elected to the Board. In November, Ed Harter, Treasurer, passed away. D.E. Engelbach was named Treasurer effective November 24, 1979.
In 1980, Paul B. Belden III leaves Belden Brick to buy Grand Rapids Builders Supply Company. He remains on the Belden Brick Board of Directors. Burke Wentz reported that Empire Coal is interested in the 330 acres adjacent to the Port Washington Plant. Empire has a long-term coal lease with Belden Brick.
By the end of 1981, the Port Washington Plant had ceased production and Empire remains an active prospect to purchase the plant and its property. Belden Brick agrees to guarantee the redemption of Belden-Stark Brick Corporation shares owned by Stark Ceramics. Belden-Stark of New York agreed to pay semi-annual installments plus accrued interest over a four-year period to complete the buyout.
On October 16th, 1981, the last brick was manufactured at the Port Washington Plant.
In June 1982, a letter of intent was signed by Stebbins Manufacturing to purchase the Urichsville Plant along with the inventory and supplies at cost.
In early 1983, the sale of the Port Washington Plant and its land (nearly 400 acres) is completed with Empire Coal with an agreement allowing the Company to liquidate 5 million brick equivalent of inventory. At the Annual Shareholders Meeting in April, it was reported that 1982 was the worst year for housing starts since the 1930’s. The Company shipped less than half the volume it had shipped in 1977 at the peak of the construction cycle. In July 1983, William H. Belden, Jr., son of William H. Belden, Sr. was named President and Robert F. Belden, son of Richard F. Belden, was named Vice-President of Marketing. Paul B. Belden, Jr., remained Chairman of the Board and William H. Belden, Sr., was named Chairman of the Executive Committee. David Hartung was elected a member of the Board of Directors of The Belden Brick Company and remains a director of the company today.
Burke Wentz announces his retirement effective 12/31/84. When he retired Mr. Wentz completed 59 years of service to The Belden Brick Company, second only to Paul B. Belden, Sr. William H. Belden, Sr., says “When I think of The Belden Brick Company I think of Burke Wentz.” Mr. Wentz, a Board member, nominates Larry Myers to be the VP-Production responsible for all manufacturing operations.
In April, Howard Finzer retires after 44 years of service. Howard is the last remaining direct link to the Finzer Brothers Clay Products Company whose purchase brought Belden Brick to Sugarcreek in 1946. In December 1985, The Belden-Stark Brick Corporation of New York makes it final payment to Stark Ceramics making it a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of The Belden Brick Company.
On the day of the Annual Shareholders Meeting in 1988 (April 27th) Paul B. Belden, Jr., passed away. William H. Belden Sr., is elected to replace his brother as Chairman of the Board. At the June meeting of the Board of Directors, Joseph G. Belden was elected to take his father’s board seat.
In mid-1989, the Company was studying the possibility of building a new plant and Belden Brick Sales in Detroit was looking for a new office site.
In 1991, Belcap is formed as a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the Company to invest in IDI of Brimfield, Ohio. IDI is in the waste management business. In July, Joseph G. Belden is named president of IDI. In the fall of the year, the Mayor of Sugarcreek prematurely announces that a new production facility will be built by Belden Brick in the village. This proves to be extremely premature as only very preliminary work is underway. Belden Brick Sales in Detroit completes the purchase of the Suburban Brick Company in Fraser, Michigan, a Detroit suburb. They begin to move their operation to Fraser and sell the Livernois Avenue property in Detroit in May of 1992.
On September 1, 1992, Paul W. Hartung, Jr., retires from the Company following 42 years of service. Burke Wentz dies on October 16, 1992 in Columbus, Ohio. The Company is actively seeking a buyer for its interest in IDI.
In late 1992, Jim Klein joined the Belden Brick Company as Vice President of Administrative Services and was chosen to lead the company’s efforts to develop and implement our Quality Management System.
William H. Belden, Sr., dies on March 6, 1993. At the Annual Meeting in April, William H. Belden, Jr., is elected Chairman of the Board and his brother, Thomas G. Belden, is nominated to replace their father on the Board of Directors.
The 1995 Annual Shareholders Meeting saw the election of Robert F. Belden as President, D.E. Engelbach, VP-Finance and CFO, and William H. Belden, Jr., as Chairman and CEO. A new plant in Sugarcreek was still being considered and plans were made to develop the Sugarcreek Industrial Park on Belden land on the eastern border of the village just north of Route 39. At the end of 1995, Bruce Strouse, Corporate Secretary, announced his intention to retire in early January of 1996. David L. Hartung was named to succeed Bruce as Corporate Secretary and is still in that role today.
1996 is an important year in the history of The Belden Brick Company. Dan Belden, Sr., the third son of Paul B. Belden Sr. and legal counsel for the Company passed away. Paul W. Hartung, III, a partner in Putman Properties, is engaged to promote the Swiss Village Business Park (formerly Sugarcreek Industrial Park). The Belden Brick Company reaches agreement with Redland PLC to purchase Redland’s American brick business, Redland Brick, Inc. The transaction was completed on September 30, 1996 and included the Cushwa Plant in Williamport, Maryland, the Harmar Plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the KF Plant outside Hartford, Connecticut. Redland Brick, Inc. is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Belden Brick and its management team is led by Jim Vinke. Late in 1996, Richard F. Belden, Director of Purchasing, retires after 55 years of service to the Company.
In 1997 at the Annual Meeting, Jim Vinke is introduced to the Shareholders and Michael B. Belden is elected to take his late father’s place on the Board of Directors. Later that year, Jim Leahy joins the company as a staff accountant and Brian Belden, son of William H. Belden, Jr., joins the firm as Marketing Coordinator.
Brian is the first fifth-generation Belden to be employed at the Company on a full-time basis. Proposals for a potential new plant continue to be received. Most of the major kiln manufacturers, Ceric, Swindell, Lingl and Keller have made proposals.
1998 sees the contract for a new plant in Sugarcreek (Plant 2), first announced by the Mayor seven years earlier, awarded to Lingl, a German manufacturer. Hammond Construction of Canton will be the General Contractor. Plant 2 will be situated between Plants 4 & 8 in Sugarcreek on currently owned Belden Brick property. Jeff Adams is named IT Director for both Redland Brick Inc. and The Belden Brick Company and becomes the first employee to report to both companies simultaneously.
Prep work on the new plant is scheduled to begin soon. Jeff Schrock is named Superintendent for Plant 2 and Bill Swinderman, Jr. will replace Jeff as Superintendent at Plant 4. Plant 2 will manufacture brick seven days a week, operating 10 hours per day. Their schedule is a total departure from the 5 day per week schedule observed at all other Belden facilities.
During 1999, as work progresses on the construction of Plant 2, Redland Brick Inc. begins to study the feasibility of a new plant at the Harmar site. By year’s end, Plant 2 is on schedule to start production the end of the first quarter of 2000 and the Board of Directors approves the authorization by Redland Brick’s board to construct a new plant at the Harmar location outside of Pittsburgh. Boral Bricks offers to sell its Rocky Ridge (Maryland) plant to Redland Brick Inc. Belden Brick Sales & Service Inc. (formerly Belden-Stark Brick Company of New York) is authorized by the Board to acquire the assets of the Atlantic Brick Corporation of Saddle Brook, New Jersey.
During the year 2000, Redland Brick Inc. acquired the Rocky Ridge (Md) plant from Boral Bricks and the new Harmar plant was approved with a capacity of 60 million brick equivalents annually compared to the 24 million b.e. capacity of the existing facility at the Harmar site. The Sugarcreek Plant 2 kiln was lit in April 2000. Later in the year, The Belden Brick Company was inducted in the Family Business Hall of Fame at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Julia Belden, daughter of Robert F. Belden, was hired by Belden Brick Sales & Service Inc. of New York as an architectural sales representative in Manhattan.
In 2001, Dee Engelbach announces his intention to retire in the fourth quarter. Jim Leahy is named Treasurer. John C. Belden is named Vice President – Sales & Marketing. At Redland Brick Inc., the Harmar Plant project is right on schedule.
In February of 2002, Robert T. Belden, son of Robert F. Belden, becomes the second fifth-generation Belden to join the Company. Bob T is assigned the position of Assistant to the Vice-President of Production, Larry Myers.
A third member of the fifth-generation of the Belden family, Bradley S. Belden, joins the Company on April 1, 2004. Brad is the son of John C. Belden and is hired as a Regulatory Affairs Specialist working with government agencies such as EPA and OSHA and working in the field of the environment, health and safety. Later in 2004, Redland Brick Inc. seeks authorization to modernize the Rocky Ridge Plant. The Belden Brick Board grants the authorization and Swindell Dressler is hired to execute the modernization plan.
Record high prices for natural gas characterize the middle years of the decade. The Company continues to drill new gas wells as it has every year since 1973. The latest wells drilled are generally in the Beekmantown and Rose Run formations. The total number of wells successfully drilled since the program’s inception in 1973 reaches 194 in 2006. These wells only produce enough gas to meet approximately 10% of the Company’s needs.
In 2005, Bettie Rairigh, Administrative Assistant to Bill and Bob Belden, retires after 59 years of service, matching Burke Wentz’s longevity as a Belden Brick employee. Bettie was hired in 1946 by Paul B. Belden, Sr. and served four generations of Belden family members. Belden Brick and Redland Brick form Redland Siding Systems LLC, a 50/50 joint venture that will be licensed to manufacture and distribute thin brick systems in North America. In November, Larry Myers dies suddenly six months before his planned retirement. Robert T. Belden is named to succeed Larry as Vice President of Operations.The Company has invested heavily in technology over the past decade. Plant 2 is a state-of-the-art, 21st century production facility, and the advent of the Internet has brought about technological change throughout the Company.
The Company has continued to provide leadership in the industry as it has done since the earliest days under Paul Belden, Sr. He was instrumental in the founding of the American Face Brick Association in 1912. He served three terms (1915, 1920, and 1932) as President. His son, Paul Jr., was Chairman of The Brick Institute of America (BIA). In 1993-1994, his grandson, Bill, Jr., was also chairman of BIA. From 2002-2004, his grandson, Bob, was chairman of the Brick Industry Association, which resulted from the merger of the Brick Institute of America and the National Association of Brick Distributors. All through these years, the Company and its officers have been supporters and leaders of the Mid-East Region of the Brick Institute of America, a regional association of brick manufacturers, as well as the national association. John C. Belden, son of Paul B. Belden, Jr., grandson of Paul B. Belden, Sr., is currently the Chairman of BIA’s Midwest/Northeastern Region which is comprised of seventeen states from Illinois to Maine. Both Paul B. Belden, Sr. and Paul B. Belden, Jr. have been honored with the industry’s Outstanding Achievement Award.While this history notes many significant events and individuals in the story of The Belden Brick Company, it could not mention everything or everyone who contributed to the success of Belden Brick since 1885. Many families, in addition to the Beldens and the Hartungs, have been instrumental in making Belden Brick the Standard of Comparison in its industry – families like the Swindermans, the Schrocks, the Myers, and the Finzers. Brickmaking was and is in their blood and their members take pride in their craft. The Belden Brick Company has been fortunate to have had so many dedicated, loyal employees throughout its history whose commitment to excellence has been unwavering.
In November of 2005, the Belden Brick board of directors established a new holding company, Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc., effective at the close of business on December 31, 2005. On January 1, 2006, The Belden Brick Company was merged into Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc., which became the parent company of The Belden Brick Company, Redland Brick Inc., Belden Brick Sales & Service (NY, NY), The Belden Brick Sales Company (Fraser, MI), and Belcap.
In August 2006, Jim Vinke retired from Redland Brick Inc., and Joe Miles succeeds as President and CEO.
In 2007, John J. Streb, Jr., son of Molly Belden Streb and the fourth member of the fifth generation of Beldens associated with the company, joined The Belden Brick Company as Environmental Technician. The board of directors decided to close the Strasburg Plant permanently. Production ceases in the first quarter while shipping continues through the end of the year into 2008.
Construction began on Plant 5 in Sugarcreek, also known as the Saw House, in 2008. It will have the capabilities to cut and grind (if required or desired) thin brick units from full-size brick manufactured at each manufacturing facility. The Saw House was powered up in December of 2008 in preparation for its opening in 2009, giving The Belden Brick Company the capability to supply full-size and thin brick units of the same style on any project.
At the shareholders’ meeting in April 2009, Robert F. Belden is named CEO, retaining his title of President, while William H. Belden, Jr. remains Chairman of the Board. Phillip G. Belden, son of Richard F. Belden, Sr., was elected to succeed his father on the board of directors, and Paul W. Hartung, III, was elected to succeed his father, Paul W. Hartung, Jr., on the board. Dick and Paul, Jr. logged 68 and 59 years of service, respectively, as employees and board members of The Belden Brick Company. In June 2009, Richard F. Belden, Sr., youngest of Paul B. Belden, Sr.’s four sons, dies at the age of 90. Belden Brick purchases the Eureka Machine Shop of Sugarcreek in 2009. Belden Brick Sales & Service of New York merges with Tri-State Brick and becomes Belden Tri-State Building Materials, effective January 1, 2010.
In April 2011, the decision was made to permanently close Sugarcreek Lanes. On July 15, 2011, Belden Holding purchases most of Lawrenceville (VA) Brick’s assets and folds them into Redland Brick Inc. Michael B. Belden, board member, died unexpectedly in August 2011. His brother, Judge Stephen F. Belden, was elected to replace him on the board.
In 2012, The Belden Brick Company purchased Uhrden Manufacturing, dba Tubar; Tubar’s real estate is adjacent to Plant 8 and Sugarcreek Lanes. The Eureka Machine business is quickly integrated within Tubar. In November, former CFO, Dee Engelbach, passes away.
We moved Plant 9 production to Plant 8 in 2013, and Plant 9 was mothballed.
In 2014, Jeff Adams was named President and CEO of Redland Brick Inc. in September. Later that year, the Brick Institute of America Mid-East Region, having only Bowerston Shale and Belden Brick as its full members, closes. Jim Tann, President, and his assistant, Natalie Stan, come to work for the company in November 2014.
At the end of 2015, after 32.5 years of service, William H. Belden, Jr. retires. Robert F. Belden assumes the chairmanship and remains President and CEO.
At the 2016 annual meeting, John C. Belden was named Executive Vice-President, Brian S. Belden to Vice-President/Sales & Marketing, and Bradley H. Belden the Vice-President/Administrative Services. The Belcrest product line of soft mud products are moved from Plant 8 to Plant 3 in 2016 as the maintenance of the Aberson molding equipment at Plant 8 has become cost-prohibitive. At the end of 2016, John Belden retires after more than 47 years of service to Belden Brick.
In 2017, the Strasburg site was sold, and at year’s end, David L. Hartung, Sr. retires after 59 years of service, matching Burke Wentz’s and Bettie Rairigh’s longevity as Belden Brick employees. Belcap, a subsidiary of Belden Holding, signs a memorandum of understanding to become a joint venture partner with Acell Ltd. of Ireland. The joint venture is called Arcitell, and in 2018, Jeff Adams and Simon Whalley leave Redland Brick Inc. to join and manage Arcitell. In April 2018, John J. Streb, Jr. was named Corporate Secretary, replacing David L. Hartung, Sr. On May 25, 2018, Bruce C. Belden, youngest son of William H. Belden, Sr., and a long time Plant 3 employee, passes away after 35 years of service.
Along with the joint venture, Arcitell, The Belden Brick Company commences a major reconfiguration at Plant 8 involving everything between raw material preparation and firing in kilns. The changes include chamber drying, automated setting, and a dedicated decorating line. Early in 2019, Jeff Adams brings Arcitell to Sugarcreek from Hagerstown, MD, and moves it into the Tubar/Eureka building. This move enables Arcitell to benefit from synergies with the Tubar/Eureka and Belden Brick operations. Jeff Adams takes over the management of Tubar/Eureka and continuing as President and CEO of Arcitell.
Bradley H. Belden is named President of Belden Holding and The Belden Brick Company at the shareholders’ meeting in 2019. Robert T. Belden is named President of Redland Brick Inc., and Brian S. Belden is named President of Belcap. All three are elected to board seats at Belden Holding and The Belden Brick Company. Paul B. Belden, III and David L. Hartung. Sr. retire from both boards and are replaced by their sons, Todd A. Belden and David L. Hartung, Jr.
Belden Holding enters negotiations with the Australian brick manufacturer, Brickworks, to Redland Brick Inc’s possible sale. Consummating the sale of Redland Brick Inc. assets on February 10, 2020, Glen-Gery Brick, a subsidiary of Brickworks USA, assumed most of those assets. The KF Plant in South Windsor, CT, and the Redland pension plan, remain with Belden Holding; however, Belden Holding included KF’s inventory in the sale, and Glen-Gery leases the KF site through the end of 2021 to facilitate the inventory sale. Almost simultaneously, The Belden Brick Company sold the Tubar business to Eagle Machinery & Supply, Inc. of Sugarcreek. The real estate stays, as it houses Arcitell operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic puts a damper on what had been a promising first quarter of 2020 for The Belden Brick Company. While brick manufacturing in Ohio is considered an essential business, and we are permitted to keep operating throughout the calendar year, the volume of shipments for 2020 is the fewest since 1952.
The future will present its own set of challenges for The Belden Brick Company, and we believe that we have positioned ourselves to meet those challenges. By continuously reinvesting in our physical plants, keeping up with information technology advances, and developing a strong leadership team committed to maintaining The Belden Brick Company's values and traditions while being capable of maneuvering in the modern, fast-paced economy in which they will operate. We look forward with optimism, confidence, and hope.