History of Glen-Gery Brick
The history of Glen-Gery is the story of how imagination, determination, leadership and luck came together to form the foundation on which was built one of this country's leading manufacturers of face and paving brick.
The company's unassuming origins can be traced back to Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1890, during the height of the Industrial Revolution when new construction was abound. A local businessman, Albert A. Gery, nicknamed AA, decided to try his hand at making fire brick. With financing from his father-in-law, Mathan Harbster, a prominent hardware merchant, Gery purchased 32 acres of land rich in fire clay near the Montello Station of the legendary Reading Railroad. Gery built two rectangular kilns and formed the Montello Clay and Brick Company.
His intent was to make dense fire brick; however, in an unexpected turn of events, Gery was contacted by a Philadelphia contractor who needed a million red common facebrick to build the Wernersville State Hospital, five miles from Montello. With this job, the new brick company fired up.
Soon large orders for building brick came in, and the refractory product was dropped. The company became profitable and, in 1898, built a new plant in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. This facility applied the novel continuous firing process in what was then the largest brick kiln in the United States. That same year, the company reorganized as a holding company called the United States Brick Company. Five plants were added to the organization, including one outfitted with 15 tunnel kilns, the first of such type firing enclosures in the U.S.
The end of World War II kicked in a long period of economic prosperity. The demand for bricks boomed. Two more plants were acquired in central Pennsylvania and two of the original plants were rebuilt. Glen-Gery became a pioneer in brick packaging, shipping its first packages to New England dealers in 1951. Two molded brick plants were purchased but quickly dismantled and replaced with one two-tunnel kiln plant -- the York Plant -- which, today, specializes in handmade brick.
Throughout the post-war decades, Glen-Gery maintained its resiliency during economic fluctuations and continued to prosper. The 1980's saw, again, unprecedented growth both geographically and along product lines. With the 1986 purchase of Hanley Brick, Inc. in Summerville, Pennsylvania, the Company expanded into the area of high quality architectural brick. Today, many well-known and architecturally prestigious buildings -- such as World Wide Plaza, The Chrysler Building and Mt. Sinai Hospital, all in New York City; and Washington Harbor in our nation's Capitol -- can count Hanley products among their many beautiful features.
Glen-Gery's influence spread westward in 1988 with the purchase of Midland Brick Co. and its manufacturing facilities in Chillicothe and Ottumwa (both eventually dismantled), Missouri, and the Redfield plant in Iowa. Other assets from the purchase became Glen-Gery's Sales Office in West Des Moines and its Kansas City Brick Yard, a major distribution center for brick products in the Midwest.
That same year, significant headway was made east into the all-important New York building market when Glen-Gery purchased the New Jersey Shale Brick Manufacturing Corporation. Located in Somerville, Jersey Shale was the only brick plant in the Garden State.
One year later, the Company completed construction on a new 60 million brick manufacturing plant in Iberia, Ohio.
In 1999, Glen-Gery Corporation was acquired by CRH plc of Ireland and became parts of its Architectural Products Group, where the principle trading name is Oldcastle.
In December 2001, Glen-Gery Corporation purchased its Marseilles Plant in Illinois. Built in 1990, the fully-computerized, state-of-the-art operation has a capacity for manufacturing 120 million brick and is one of the leading brick producers in the industry. Marseilles Plant serves the Chicago area, the third largest brick consuming market in the U.S.
In the first quarter 2002, Glen-Gery completed the modernization of its Hanley Plant. The $18 million dollar project included the construction of a 280 ft. tunnel kiln, robotic setting and packaging equipment, and the installation of a state-of-the-art computer management system to track the entire manufacturing process. The plant's brickmaking capacity increased by 32%, to 50 million units per year. The improvements will also enable the plant to add clay/shale blends and flashed brick to future product development.
In 2014, Glen-Gery Corporation was acquired by Bain Capital Europe, LLP and began operating as a subsidiary of Ibstock Building Products Limited. In addition to Glen-Gery, Ibstock Building Products portfolio of brands include: Ibstock Brick, Supreme Concrete, Forticrete, Ibstock|Kevington and Anderton Concrete.
Today, Glen-Gery operates 10 manufacturing plants and 10 Masonry Supply Centers. Glen-Gery is one of the largest brick manufacturers in the U.S.
Although a century beyond its modest origins, Glen-Gery still maintains the high standards established from its inception: quality, honesty, innovation and integrity.