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History of Acme Brick

Beginnings

1852  Oct. 6: Birthdate of George Bennett, founder of Acme Brick Company.
1876  Bennett arrives in Texas, at Galveston, then moves to Dallas a year later and takes a job with McCormick Reaper and Harvester Co.
1884  Bennett quits McCormick to set out on his own, buys three 160-acre tracts of land in the Rock Creek area of Parker County, TX, and starts building a brick plant.

1891-1920

1891  Bennett's test brick are rated "superior," and Bennett's plant goes into full production.
Apr. 17: Acme Pressed Brick Company is chartered in Alton, IL.
1894  Acme builds a new plant across the railroad tracks, still the site of the Bennett Plant today.
1901  First print ad, which lists buildings made of Acme Brick over the previous 10 years.
1902  Construction begins on Acme's first big job, the Armour and Swift meat-packing plants located at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
1907  July 3: In Galveston on a business trip, George Bennett dies at age 54. Ralph S. Root becomes president of Acme.
1910  Fall: Roiled by economic depression and the aftereffects of a 1908 strike, Acme shuts down.
December: News of a fire in Midland, TX, prompts Acme to reopen.
1911  Acme moves its headquarters to 824 Monroe Street in Fort Worth.
1912  Bennett Plant is retooled for stiff-mud operation.
Acme acquires Denton Pressed Brick Company.
1913  Acme moves its headquarters to the First National Bank Building at 7th and Houston streets, in Fort Worth.
1914  While closed for renovation, Acme's Denton Plant catches fire and burns.
1916  Houston, San Antonio, and West Texas sales offices open.
George Bennett's son Walter, 29, is elected president.
1918  Stiff-mud machinery installed at Denton.
1919  Acme's headquarters move to the Neil P. Anderson Building, at 7th and Taylor in Fort Worth.
Acme sells 16 million brick from Bennett and Denton Plants.
Walter Bennett buys a 120-acre tract for Acme in Perla, AR.

1921-1940

1921  First brick are shipped from Acme's new Perla Plant.
1923  Acme merges with Fort Smith Brick and Tile.
1924  Acme buys American Brick and Tile, with plants in Oklahoma City and Cleveland, OK.
1925  Acme begins construction of new brick plant in Tulsa, OK.
1926  Acme buys the Atchinson Brick Works, which becomes Perla Plant No. 2.
Strategic partnership is established with Elgin-Standard Brick Company, lasting until 1964.
Acme buys Arkansas Brick and Tile, adding plants in Perla, Malvern, Pine Bluff (closed 1929) and Little Rock (closed 1930, rebuilt and reopened 1946, closed for good 1952).
1927  Acme buys Wichita Falls (TX) Brick and Tile (closed in the depression).
1928  Acme sells 165 million brick, setting a record that lasts nearly 20 years.
1930  As the Great Depression hits, Acme shipments fall to 98 million brick.
1932  Annual sales fall to 24 million brick.
1934  Acme records its first annual loss.
1935  Plants in Bridgeport and Ferris, TX, acquired from bankrupt Bridgeport Brick, come on line.
Walter R. Bennett dies; William Bryce, 74, becomes president and chairman of the board.
1940  Annual sales total 85 million brick.

1941-1960

1941  J. Ernest Fender, 58, becomes president; William Bryce continues as chairman.
1943  German POWs work at Acme plants in Perla, Fort Smith, Bennett, Denton, Bridgeport and Oklahoma City.
1944  Acme buys a plant in Clinton, OK., first plant purchase in a decade (closed 1986).
1945  Acme buys Bishop Brick Company, of Houston (closed 1958).
Acme buys Garrison Vitrified Brick Company, in Garrison, TX.
1945-1950  Sales triple, from $3 million to $9 million, in the postwar period.
1950  Through lease-purchase, Acme acquires Louisiana plants in Monroe (closed 1966) and Baton Rouge (closed 1984).
1952  Acme moves its headquarters to 2821 W 7th St. in Fort Worth--built of brick from the Denton Plant.
1954  Acme breaks into the Kansas-Missouri market with the purchase of Buffalo Brick and Tile, in Buffalo, KS
Acme lease-purchases plants in Alexandria, LA, and Waskom, TX, from Tri-State Brick Company. Both close in 1962.
1958  Acme buys plants at Kanopolis and Great Bend, KS (Great Bend closes November 1961), from Great Bend Brick and Tile.
1959  Ernest Fender, 76, retires; Neill Boldrick, 58, and a 35-year Acme veteran, becomes president.
1960  Acme's vital statistics: 19 plants, 32 sales offices, annual sales of 300 million brick.

1961-1980

1961  Acme buys Fraser Brick and Tile, of San Antonio, adding a plant at McQueeney, TX.
D. O. Tomlin, 46, becomes president.
1962  J. Ernest Fender dies, age 78.
1960s  Acme develops King Size brick in Oklahoma, "Classic" brick in Denton.
1963  Acme buys the United Brick Division of Martin Marietta, gaining plants in Kansas City, MO (closed 1967); Harrisonville, MO (closed 1969); Weir, KS; Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City, OK (closed 1969, reopened 1972); Collinsville, OK (never operated); and Coffeyville, KS (never operated)
Following extensive renovation, and with great fanfare, Acme opens the "new" Denton Plant.
1967  After a third round of expansion to the new Denton Plant, the "old" Denton Plant closes after 50 years of operation.
Acme opens a fully automated East Gate Plant at Perla, AR.
1968  Acme makes its first nonbrick acquisition: concrete-block maker Nolan Browne Co., of Dallas, TX.
Acme purchases McDonald Brothers Cast Stone Company, of Fort Worth, region's largest maker of precast concrete panels and cast stone.
D. O. Tomlin announces purchase of United Cement Products Company and Born Block, of Wichita, KS.
Acme purchases the half interest in ACF Precast, of Lubbock, TX, that McDonald didn't own, plus Concrete Casting Corporation.
Acme Brick Company formally changes its name to First Worth Corporation.
First Worth merges with the Justin Companies, of Fort Worth, and Lousiana Concrete Products.
1969  John S. Justin Jr., 51, becomes president of First Worth Corporation.
1970  Justin becomes president of Acme Brick; D. O. Tomlin leaves Acme.
1972  First Worth changes names to Justin Industries, Inc.
1973  Edward L. Stout Jr., 48, a 24-year veteran, becomes president of Acme Brick Company.
1974  Acme closes plants in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK.
1976  Justin Industries adds Kingstip-Featherlite to its Building Materials group.
Acme is the nation's No. 1 brickmaker in sales and production.
1978  Banner year: Acme Brick Company sets the U.S. record for single-year brick sales.
1979  Three years and $5.5 million in the making, the Oklahoma City Plant is put on line.
1976-1979  A building boom prompts a flood of substandard imported brick from Mexico into Texas. In the peak year, 1978, shipments of these substitutes total approximately 500 million. Under leadership of Harrold Melton, Acme develops a consumer advertising program to counter the competitive threat.
1980  Acme closes plants in Malvern, AR; Tulsa, OK; and Edmond, OK.
October: Acme opens the new Ouachita Plant in Malvern, AR, which is proclaimed "Brick Capital of the World."

1981-1990

1981  As housing starts hit a 35-year low, Acme builds inventory: 400 million by year's end.
Mexican brick sales drop 60% from 1978; Acme retools its consumer advertising program to appeal to apartment dwellers considering a new-home purchase.
Acme buys plants in Jamestown, LA, and El Dorado, AR (never operated), from Jamestown Brick and Dixie Brick--consolidating operations at the renamed Dixie Plant in Jamestown.
1983  Acme implements BRIX, a computerized information processing and communication system that links plants with sales offices--forerunner of the company's current ERP solution.
1984  Record housing starts propel Acme to record sales years in 1983 and 1984.
1985  "New" Tulsa Plant opens, producing architectural brick, special shapes, sculptured brick and pavers.
1986  Acme holds grand opening of its new San Felipe Plant, west of Houston near the town of Sealy.
1987  Acme begins stamping its name on one end of select residential brick.
1979-1989  Acme opens new sales offices in the following cities: Malvern and Springdale, AR; Monroe and Shreveport, LA.; Memphis and Nashville, TN; Olathe, KS; St. Louis, MO; and Abilene, Dallas, Longview, Round Rock, and Texarkana, TX.
1989  An investor group announces its intent to launch a takeover bid for Justin Industries.
1990  A formal bid of $18.50 per share is rejected by Justin's board. Counteroffers and legal action ensue, continuing at a low level into 1991.

1991-2000

1991  The outside investor group agrees to sell its stake in Justin Industries to other Texas investors, and Justin agrees to pay certain legal fees; the takeover battle is over.
With celebrations throughout the year at every company facility, Acme celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Acme acquires the former Elgin-Standard brick plant from Elgin-Butler Brick Company.
1993  Troy Aikman, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys football team, becomes Acme's spokeman: initially in radio and print advertising, later television.
1994  Acme acquires American Tile Supply, a leading tile distributor and retailer in Texas.
1997  Acme acquires Fort Worth-based Innovative Building Products, developer and manufacturer of a mortarless installation system for glass block windows, skylights, shower enclosures, and floors.
1998  Acme Brick acquires Witt Brick & Supply, which becomes Acme's Temple, TX, sales facility.
1999  Ed Stout, 74, retires; Harrold Melton, 63, becomes president of Acme Brick Company.
Acme acquires the two Texas Clay brick plants located in Malakoff, TX, and acquires the Wheeler Brick Company, in Jonesboro, AR.
Justin Industries' Building Products division is brought under the aegis of Acme Brick Company.
2000  Acme acquires Eureka Brick Company, in Clarksville, AR.
Production begins at Acme's new Elgin, TX, Handmades Plant.
June 20: Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. announces intent to acquire Justin Industries, Inc.
August 1: Berkshire acquires Justin Industries, Inc.

2001-present

2001  Acme acquires a brick plant in Holly Springs, MS.
Acme acquires Denver Brick Company in Castle Rock, CO.
Acme annual shipments exceed 1 billion for the first time.
2003  Acme Brick acquires distributor Angelo Brick, which becomes Acme's San Angelo, TX, sales facility.
Acme Brick residential products now carry the Good Housekeeping Seal.
2004  Dixie Plant, in Jamestown, LA, is permanently closed.
Acme replaces the aging BRIX system with a comprehensive ERP solution from JDEdwards.
2005  Harrold Melton, 69, retires; Dennis Knautz, 52, a 23-year veteran of Acme Brick Company, is named president and chief executive officer.
Acme acquires brick distributor Edmonds Materials, with locations in Memphis and Jackson, TN.
2006  Acme converts Elgin Handmades Plant to stiff-mud extrusion.
2007  To much fanfare, "Baby Clay," is born on July 4. The world's biggest brick, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, travels to every plant and sales office to commemorate Acme's 116th anniversary.
Due to overbuilding and the subprime mortgage crisis, housing collapses. Acme reduces production at almost all plants and temporarily closes its Weir, Bridgeport, San Felipe and Ouachita Plants.
Acme celebrates relocation of its headquarters to a new building along the Trinity River in southwest Fort Worth. Mayor Mike Moncrief helps dedicate the facility. Brick, block, stone, IBP Glass Block Grids, and tile from all Acme facilities are incorporated into the structure.
2008  Acme acquires the Ochs Brick Plant in Springfield, MN; McFarlane Stone in Bloomington, MN; and the Ochs Brick & Stone sales office in Edina, MN.
Acme temporarily closes its Holly Springs, Kanopolis, and Old Bennett plants.
After rebuilding the kiln, Acme restarted the San Felipe Plant.
After installing a monorail system, Acme restarted the Ouachita Plant.
2009  Due to continuing housing collapse, Acme temporarily closes the Ochs, Perla Westgate, Eureka, Bennett, McQueeney, Garrison, Texas Clay "A", Tulsa, and Denver plants.
2010  With U.S. housing starts changing very little from 2009's 65-year low, the Tulsa, Denver, and Texas Clay "A" plants are restarted only after their excess inventories are worked down. The Ochs Plant is operated for only a few months before being temporarily closed again in December.
After installing a monorail system, Acme restarts the Ouachita Plant.
The Weir, KS plant, the last operating brick plant that was part of the United Brick Division acquisition in 1963, is permanently closed.
American Tile & Stone's corporate office and central distribution center are relocated to space adjacent to its Dallas-area showroom.
2011  Jenkins Brick Company facilities in five Southeastern states, including three brick plants in Alabama, become part of Acme Brick.


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