The storied history of The Belden Brick Company is one of American entrepreneurship, invention, and innovation and a family's unyielding dedication to excellence in the art of brickmaking.
Our company's story officially began in 1885 when our founder, Henry S. Belden, established 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, an attorney and senior partner in the law firm of Belden & McKinley, of which Judge G.W. Belden was the senior partner. The junior partner was William McKinley, who would later become a U.S. Congressman, Governor of Ohio, and was twice elected President of the United States in 1896 before being assassinated in 1901.
Young Henry S. Belden also became an attorney and served as mayor of Canton from 1870-71. But at 32, a throat ailment forced him to relocate to his father's farm, hoping the open air would improve his health, which it eventually did. While on the farm, Henry discovered large deposits of coal, shale, and clay, which led to the beginning of his mining operations. He began experimenting with clay and shale and developing a brick-making process. Curious about the firing temperatures on clay and shale, he built a small kiln to study the effects and 1874, invented the Belden Burner. Made of clay, it released better light than any other type; its patent led to sales of clay instruments for street lighting. He was granted 13 patents for gasoline vapor street lights and secured many contracts for lighting cities and towns across the United States.
In 1876, Henry visited the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia and observed the original stiff mud brick-making machine.
Henry was inspired and started to ponder the potential of paving streets with brick and using bricks as fireproof material, especially after the fire nearly destroyed Chicago in 1871. His paving brick was the first known use of paving brick used in the city of Canton, Ohio. Brick pavements then spread quickly throughout the county and state.
In August of 1895, Diebold Fire Brick Company stockholders incorporated the Canton Pressed Brick Company as the successor company to the Diebold Fire & Brick Company.
Officers Henry S. Belden, President; C.J. Diebold, Vice President; James G. Barbour, Secretary/Treasurer; S.J. Allen, Superintendent, of the new company held the first annual Canton Pressed Brick Company meeting in 1896. As president, Henry Belden was focused on organizing the new company and outfitting the plant to produce the kind of brick he had developed and knew how to manufacture. He was determined to hold on to what he had. However, the company's financial affairs were unstable. However, Henry was determined to make a go of it and keep the company solvent, and what was needed was a new source of capital to maintain general operations. 1904 Henry's youngest son, Paul Belden, returned to Canton upon becoming aware of his father's financial issues. His friend, P.D. Hardy, went along to see if his business experience might be helpful. They arrived in Canton and picked up the Canton Pressed Brick Company ruins. Paul Belden would learn that the company needed operating capital.
In 1909, Paul Belden was authorized to obtain any capital needed to operate the business. Paul met with and convinced L. B. Hartung, a well-known Canton plumbing contractor, to purchase capital stock of the Canton Pressed Brick Company. In doing so, L.B. Hartung became a key shareholder, owning approximately 30% of the capital stock.
Paul Belden was elected General Manager in 1911 and, from then on, had a free hand in operating and managing the company.
Paul had an excellent reputation as a leader in the brick industry and was well recognized nationally for his accomplishments. It is recalled that while traveling by train through Perry County, Ohio, Paul Belden noticed a brick manufacturing plant with an inventory of a unique red brick sitting in its storage yard. Paul contacted the local bank and discovered the plant defaulted on the mortgage payment. With this knowledge, he could obtain the plant on generous terms. This facility 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. Due to P.D. Hardy's failing health, at the same meeting, Henry Belden was 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 requested the Secretary of Ohio to consolidate its operations under a new name. Canton Pressed Brick Company received a certificate of consolidation on October 30, 1912, making it official. The company would now operate under the name of The Belden Brick Company.
At the 1913 annual stockholders meeting, 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 building two new kilns and a new dryer at the Canton plant to handle the increased business. In 1916, the company had a good stock of finished brick, 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 materials for plant maintenance were expensive and almost impossible to obtain. The Canton and Somerset Plants were closed 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 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.
In July 1918, The Belden Brick Company directors authorized the treasurer to loan Belden Face Brick Company, a personal venture of Henry Belden's, as much money as needed in exchange for bonds to be held as collateral. Then, in October 1919, The Belden Brick Company purchased stock in the Belden Face Brick Company, and by 1920, they held shares in the amount of more than twice the money they had loaned Belden Face Brick. Now Belden Face Brick again had a strong sales force for their product, and The Belden Brick Company now had a continuing source of face brick on which they received 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 The 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 Belden Face Brick Company.
After Henry Belden's death, W. W. Irwin sold all of his stock in The Belden Brick Company, leaving 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 Vice President.
At the close of World War I, The Belden Brick Company's 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. These four plants 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 its 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.
The Belden Brick Corporate Office relocated to its current location at Tuscarawas and High Street in Canton, Ohio 1922.
The year 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. to promote and distribute both companies' products in the Detroit area.
The Detroit joint venture 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.
At a special meeting in 1935, the board of directors elected Paul B. Belden Sr., President and General Manager. The Belden Brick Company began to emerge from the Depression about 1936, and The Belden Face Brick Company became the Port Washington Plant of 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 helpful diversification during the depression and an essential factor in keeping Belden in operation during World War II. By 1939, the economy had shown signs of improvement, war broke out in Europe, and several personnel changes occurred within The Belden Brick Company's management. Large orders for war materials 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 be prioritized 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 its acid-proof brick and tile line. 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 the necessary valuable alloy for other war materials. With material and labor preferences, the few brick companies making acid-proof brick and tile got priorities for these orders.
Not long before, the War Production Board realized that face brick was essential to the war effort. Buildings had to be re-built, wood was in short supply and highly impractical to use, sheet steel supplies were critical, so the ban on brick sales was lifted, and many priority-building permits were issued, bringing back the need for face brick. The Belden Brick Company would more than break even despite wartime restrictions on their operations.
In 1946, an important year, The Belden Brick Company held a board of directors meeting where they elected new officers, including 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 B. Belden Sr.'s sons grew up in the brick business and learned much from their father. The company continued to thrive under their leadership, with Paul Belden Sr. getting his plants back in operation by the end of 1946. He aimed to re-establish the company to gain the post-war market as soon as possible. At this critical time in the company's history, an opportunity arose.
The Finzer Brothers Company, which faced a significant rehabilitation job after the end of World War II, was looking for a reputable company to take over. Charles Finzer, a close friend of Paul B. Belden, Sr., approached him in 1945 to discuss the possibility of The Belden Brick Company taking over. The Finzer family wanted a company that had their employees' best interests and the people of Sugarcreek at heart, and they believed that Belden was the ideal choice. Paul liked the idea, and in May of 1946, The Belden Brick Company took possession of the Finzer Brothers Clay Company.
The newly acquired Finzer Plant had two very high stacks, surrounded by 20 large beehive kilns intended to cycle in rotation.
Theoretically, some kilns would be charging, some burning, and others cooling at any time. This schedule would create maximum production with a minimum labor force. One benefit of purchasing The Finzer Brothers Company was a vein of coal and large deposits of excellent clay. The coal seam supplied fuel for the kilns, and Finzer Brothers had also sold coal locally, a practice that The Belden Brick Company 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 Brick Company displayed their confidence in the future of their business by starting the construction of a new plant in Sugarcreek. This plant, known as Plant 6, would be the largest facility in the country for producing face brick and building tile. The plant was operational by 1957. Paul B. Belden, Sr. was impressed with Sugarcreek's community of fair and cooperative people. The area had abundant, high-quality raw materials and good transportation facilities, including two trucking companies and rail shipments serving their plants. Additionally, the company's policies toward their employees were well-received by the community due to the incredible workforce.
Following his graduation from Bowling Green State University in 1958, David L. Hartung, the younger son of Paul W. Hartung, Sr., became 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. He began to assist in the customer service department, where he posted inventory and spoke with customers regarding orders for Sugarcreek Plants 6 and 4.
Building upon the abundance of raw materials and an outstanding labor pool, The Belden Brick Company's Plant 8, the largest brick plant constructed ever under one roof, began operating in May 1968. Unfortunately, Paul B. Belden, Sr., the Chairman of the Board of the company since 1946, passed away on February 13, 1970. In April of the same year, the board of directors held an organizational meeting and elected new officers: Paul B. Belden, Jr., as Chairman of the Board; William H. Belden, Sr., as President; and Paul W. Hartung, Jr., Vice President. David L. Hartung was elected Assistant Secretary and later became Corporate Secretary in 1996, succeeding Bruce Strouse, who retired in January. In the customer service area, David L. Hartung was the Production and Service Manager for Sugarcreek Plant 6, a position he had already held.
In 1973, The Belden Brick Company acquired the assets, properties, and manufacturing facilities of the Moomaw Brothers at Sugarcreek, adding to their existing eight operating plants. The Shepfer-Moomaw Plant was designated as Plant 9. Canton Plant 1, the original Belden plant, was closed in June 1970.
In March of 1974, The Belden Brick Company purchased Stark's interest in the jointly owned Detroit Sales Office. The company was also negotiating with Stebbins Manufacturing on the sale of the Uhrichsville Plant, and Stebbins was the primary customer of that facility. In mid-1977, Stark Ceramics approached The Belden Brick Company concerning 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 The Belden Brick Company: 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. Ed Harter, the Treasurer, passed away in November, and D. E. Engelbach was named Treasurer effective November 24, 1979.
In 1980, Paul B. Belden III left The Belden Brick Company to buy Grand Rapids Builders Supply Company but remained on the board of directors. Burke Wentz reported that Empire Coal, who had a long-term coal lease with The Belden Brick Company, is interested in the 330 acres adjacent to the Port Washington Plant.
On October 16, 1981, the Port Washington Plant manufactured their last brick, and Empire Coal remained an active prospect of purchasing the plant and its property. The Belden Brick Company 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 four years to complete the buyout.
In June 1982, Stebbins Manufacturing signed a letter of intent to purchase the Uhrichsville Plant and the inventory and supplies at cost.
In early 1983, Empire Coal completed the sale of the Port Washington Plant and its land (nearly 400 acres) with an agreement allowing the company to liquidate the 5 million brick equivalent of inventory. At the Annual Shareholders Meeting in April, The Belden Brick Company reported that 1982 was the worst year for housing starts since the 1930s. They shipped less than half the volume they had sent 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 L. Hartung was elected and served as a member of the board of directors at The Belden Brick Company until 2018 and remained emeritus until his passing in 2021.
After 59 years of service at The Belden Brick Company, second only to Paul B. Belden Sr., Burke Wentz announces his retirement effective December 31, 1984. He nominates his Assistant General Superintendent, Larry Myers, as the Vice President of Production responsible for all manufacturing operations. William H. Belden, Sr., says, "When I think of The Belden Brick Company, I think of Burke Wentz."
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 The Belden Brick Company to Sugarcreek, Ohio, in 1946. In December 1985, The Belden-Stark Brick Corporation of New York made its final payment to Stark Ceramics, making it a "wholly-owned subsidiary" of The Belden Brick Company.
On April 27, 1988, the day of the Annual Shareholders Meeting, Paul B. Belden, Jr., passed away. William H. Belden Sr. was elected to replace his brother as Chairman of the Board. Joseph G. Belden was selected to take his father's board seat at the June meeting of the board of directors.
In mid-1989, The Belden Brick 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 was established as a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Belden Brick Company to invest in IDI, the waste management business of Brimfield, Ohio. Joseph G. Belden was named president of IDI in July. Later that fall, the Mayor of Sugarcreek announced that The Belden Brick Company would construct a new production facility in the village. However, this announcement proved premature, as only preliminary work was underway. In May of 1992, Belden Brick Sales in Detroit purchased the Suburban Brick Company in Fraser, Michigan, a Detroit suburb. They began relocating their operation to Fraser while selling the Livernois Avenue property in Detroit.
On September 1, 1992, Paul W. Hartung, Jr., retired from The Belden Brick Company after 42 years of service. Burke Wentz passed away on October 16, 1992, in Columbus, Ohio, and the company was 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 led the company's efforts to develop and implement a Quality Management System.
On March 6, 1993, William H. Belden, Sr., died. At the Annual Meeting in April, William H. Belden, Jr., was elected Chairman of the Board, and his brother, Thomas G. Belden, was nominated to replace their father on the board of directors.
In 1995, The Belden Brick Company had its Annual Shareholders Meeting. Robert F. Belden was elected President, D.E. Engelbach as Vice President of Finance and CFO, and William H. Belden, Jr. as Chairman and CEO. The company was still considering building a new plant in Sugarcreek and planned to develop the Sugarcreek Industrial Park on its property on the eastern border of the village just north of Route 39. At the end of 1995, Corporate Secretary Bruce Strouse announced his intention to retire in early January 1996, and David L. Hartung was named his successor.
1996 is an important year in the history of The Belden Brick Company. Daniel M. 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, was promoting the Swiss Village Business Park (formerly Sugarcreek Industrial Park). The Belden Brick Company agreed 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 Williamsport, Maryland, the Harmar Plant near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the KF Plant outside Hartford, Connecticut. Redland Brick, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Belden Brick Company, and Jim Vinke leads its management team. Late in 1996, Richard F. Belden, Director of Purchasing, retired after 55 years of service.
In 1997, Jim Vinke was introduced to the Shareholders at the Annual Meeting, and Michael B. Belden was elected to take his late father's place on the board of directors. Later that year, Jim Leahy joined the company as a staff accountant, and Brian S. Belden, son of William H. Belden, Jr., was named Marketing Coordinator. Brian is the first fifth-generation Belden to be employed at the company full-time.
Proposals for a potential new plant continue to be received, and most of the significant kiln manufacturers, Ceric, Swindell, Lingl, and Keller, have made proposals. First announced by the Mayor seven years earlier, 1998 saw the contract awarded to Lingl, a German manufacturer, for a new plant (Plant 2) in Sugarcreek. Hammond Construction of Canton, Ohio, was the General Contractor and would build Plant 2 on The Belden Brick Company's property between Plants 4 and 8. Jeff Adams was named IT Director for Redland Brick Inc. and The Belden Brick Company and became the first employee to report to both companies simultaneously.
The new construction plans for Plant 2 would begin. Jeff Schrock was selected as Superintendent for Plant 2, and Bill Swinderman, Jr. would replace Jeff as Superintendent at Plant 4. Plant 2 will manufacture brick seven days a week, operating 10 hours daily. Their schedule is a total departure from the five-day-a-week schedule observed at all other Belden facilities.
In 1999, as work progressed on the construction of Plant 2, Redland Brick Inc. began to study the feasibility of a new plant at the Harmar site. By year's end, Plant 2 was on schedule to start production at the end of the first quarter of 2000, and the board of directors approved Redland Brick's board's authorization 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.
2000 Redland Brick Inc. acquired the Rocky Ridge, Maryland plant from Boral Bricks. The new Harmar plant was approved with a capacity of 60 million brick equivalent annually compared to the 24 million brick equivalent capacity of the existing facility at the Harmar site. The Belden Brick Company lit Plant 2's kiln in April 2000. Later in the year, they were celebrated by the induction into 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 announced his intention to retire in the fourth quarter. Jim Leahy is named Treasurer, and John C. Belden is named Vice President of Sales and 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, became the second fifth-generation Belden to join the company and was 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 H. Belden, son of John C. Belden, joined the company on April 1, 2004, 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. sought authorization to modernize the Rocky Ridge Plant. The Belden Brick Company's board granted the permission, and Swindell Dressler was hired to execute the modernization plan.
Record high prices for natural gas characterize the middle years of the decade. The Belden Brick Company continued to drill new gas wells, as it has every year since 1973. The latest wells drilled were generally in the Beekmantown and Rose Run formations. Since the program's inception in 1973, the number of successful wells hit 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 William H. Belden, Jr. and Robert F. Belden, retired after 59 years of service, matching Burke Wentz's longevity as an employee at The Belden Brick Company. Bettie was hired in 1946 by Paul B. Belden, Sr., and served four generations of Belden family members.
The Belden Brick Company and Redland Brick formed Redland Siding Systems LLC, a 50/50 joint venture licensed to manufacture and distribute thin brick systems in North America. Unfortunately, Larry Myers passed away six months before his planned retirement in November. Robert T. Belden is appointed Vice President of Operations, succeeding Larry.
Over the past decade, The Belden Brick Company has significantly invested in technology, constructing Plant 2, a state-of-the-art, 21st-century production facility, and embracing technological advancements brought about by the Internet.
The company continued to provide leadership in the industry as it had done since the earliest days under Paul B. Belden, Sr. He was instrumental in founding the American Face Brick Association in 1912, serving three terms (1915, 1920, and 1932) as President. His son, Paul B. Belden, Jr., began their legacy as chairman of the Brick Institute of America. Continuing that legacy, his grandsons, William H. Belden, Jr., served as chairman from 1993 to 1994, and Robert F. Belden from 2002-2004 of the newly named Brick Industry Association (BIA), which resulted from the merger of the Brick Institute of America and the National Association of Brick Distributors. Throughout these years, The Belden Brick Company and its officers have been leaders and supporters of the Mid-East Region of the BIA. John C. Belden, son of Paul B. Belden, Jr. and grandson of Paul B. Belden, Sr., was the chapter chair of BIA's Midwest/Northeastern Region, consisting of seventeen states from Illinois to Maine. Paul B. Belden, Sr., and Paul B. Belden, Jr. have been honored with the industry's Outstanding Achievement Award.
In November of 2005, The Belden Brick Company's 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, Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc. became the parent company to 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 succeeded as President and CEO.
In 2007, John J. Streb, Jr., son of Molly Belden Streb and the fourth member of the fifth generation of the Belden family associated with the company, joined The Belden Brick Company as an 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 of Plant 5, also known as the Saw House, began in 2008. The Belden Brick Company added this new plant to cut and grind thin brick units from full-size bricks. The Saw House was powered up in December of 2008 in preparation for its opening in 2009. It allowed The Belden Brick Company to supply full-size and thin brick units of the same style.
At the shareholders' meeting in April 2009, Robert F. Belden was appointed CEO while retaining his title of President. William H. Belden, Jr. remained Chairman of the Board. Richard F. Belden's son, Phillip G. Belden, succeeded his father on the board of directors. Paul W. Hartung III was elected to succeed his father, Paul W. Hartung, Jr., on the board. Richard and Paul, Jr. served as employees and board members of The Belden Brick Company for 68 and 59 years, respectively. In June 2009, Richard F. Belden, youngest of Paul B. Belden, Sr.'s four sons, died at 90. The Belden Brick Company purchased 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.
From Left To Right Top Row: Henry Belden, L.B. Hartung, Paul W. Hartung, Sr., Paul B. Belden, Sr., Paul B. Belden, Jr., William H. Belden, Sr., Paul W. Hartung, Jr., Richard F. Belden, Bottom Row: John C. Belden, William H. Belden, Jr., Robert F. Belden, Brian S. Belden, Robert T. Belden, Bradley H. Belden, Julia Belden, and John J. Streb.
On July 15, 2011, Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc. purchased most of Lawrenceville Brick, Virginia's assets and folded them into Redland Brick Inc. Michael B. Belden, a 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. The Belden Brick Company quickly integrates the Eureka Machine Shop business within Tubar. In November, former CFO Dee Engelbach passed away.
We moved Plant 9's production to Plant 8 in 2013, and Plant 9 was mothballed.
In September 2014, Jeff Adams was named President and CEO of Redland Brick Inc. Later that year, the BIA's Mid-East Region, having only Bowerston Shale and Belden Brick as its full members, closed. Their President, Jim Tann, and his assistant, Natalie Stan, were hired in November 2014 by The Belden Brick Company to oversee Technical Services.
At the end of 2015, after 32.5 years of service, William H. Belden, Jr. retired. Robert F. Belden assumed the chairmanship and remained President and CEO.
During the annual meeting held in 2016, The Belden Brick Company announced that John C. Belden was appointed as the Executive Vice-President, Brian S. Belden as the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, and Bradley H. Belden as the Vice-President of Administrative Services. In the same year, the company decided to move the Belcrest line of soft mud products from Plant 8 to Plant 3 because the cost of maintaining the Aberson molding equipment at Plant 8 had become prohibitive. Finally, John C. Belden retired at the end of 2016 after serving The Belden Brick Company for over 47 years.
In 2017, The Belden Brick Company sold the Strasburg site, and at year's end, David L. Hartung retired after 59 years of service, matching Burke Wentz's and Bettie Rairigh's longevity as employees at The Belden Brick Company. Belcap, a subsidiary of Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc., signs a memorandum of understanding to become a joint venture partner with ACELL INDUSTRIES LTD of Ireland. The joint venture is called Arcitell, and in 2018, Jeff Adams and Simon Whalley left Redland Brick Inc. to join and manage Arcitell. In April 2018, John J. Streb, Jr. was named Corporate Secretary, replacing David L. Hartung. On May 25, 2018, Bruce C. Belden, the youngest son of William H. Belden, Sr., and a long-time Plant 3 employee, passed 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 from raw material preparation to firing in kilns. The changes included chamber drying, an automated setting, and a dedicated decorating line. Early in 2019, Jeff Adams brought Arcitell to Sugarcreek from Hagerstown, MD, and moved it into the Tubar/Eureka building. This move enables Arcitell to benefit from synergies with the Tubar/Eureka and The Belden Brick Company operations. Jeff Adams takes over the management of Tubar/Eureka and continues as President and CEO of Arcitell.
Bradley H. Belden was named President of Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc. and The Belden Brick Company at the shareholders' meeting 2019. Robert T. Belden was named President of Redland Brick Inc., and Brian S. Belden was named President of Belcap. All three are elected to board seats at Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc. and The Belden Brick Company. Paul B. Belden III and David L. Hartung retired from both boards and were replaced by their sons, Todd A. Belden and David L. Hartung, Jr.
Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc. enters negotiations with the Australian brick manufacturer Brickworks to consummate the sale of Redland Brick Inc. 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 remained with Belden Holding & Acquisition Company, Inc.; however, they included KF's inventory in the sale, and Glen-Gery leased 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 damaged the promising first quarter of 2020 for The Belden Brick Company. While brick manufacturing in Ohio is considered an essential business, and we can keep operating throughout the calendar year, the volume of shipments for 2020 is the lowest since 1952.
The future will present challenges for The Belden Brick Company, and we have positioned ourselves to meet them. 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.
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 The Belden Brick Company since 1885. In addition to the Belden and Hartung families, many families have been instrumental in making The Belden Brick Company the Standard of Comparison in its industry. The Swinderman, Schrock, Myers, and Finzer families had brickmaking in their blood and took pride in their expertise. The Belden Brick Company has been fortunate to have many dedicated, loyal employees whose commitment to excellence has been unwavering.