[Image above] The world’s largest brick (as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records) is named “Baby Clay.” This mammoth brick was produced by Acme employees in 2007 and took 14 months to dry and fire. It measures 116″ long by 39″ tall and weighs 9,000 lbs. It “resides” on a custom trailer and is transported to special events. Credit: Greg Geiger

[Editor’s note: This report comes to us from Greg Geiger, ACerS technical content manager.]

Networking, learning, relationship-building, and plant tours. What more could you ask for in an ACerS meeting? More than 100 attendees converged on Fort Worth, Texas, to attend the first combined meeting of ACerS Structural Clay Products Division (SCPD) & Southwest (SW) Section in conjunction with the National Brick Research Center meeting, May 9–12 at the Radisson Forth Worth North, to network with peers and industry suppliers.

Attendees heard from 14 subject matter experts in technical sessions focused on topics that included kiln maintenance, tornado recovery, hardcaking, rheometer measurements, fabrication, product development, and more.

Brick plant tours

Wednesday was “field trip day,” as attendees toured two brick plants—Acme Brick Company in Denton, Texas, and Meridian Brick’s west plant in Mineral Wells, Texas.

Acme has been manufacturing bricks in Denton for more than a century. With 234 employees, Acme’s current annual production capacity is 130 million brick equivalents in 70 colors on two production lines and three kilns. The company also offers a wide selection of specially-shaped bricks.

Attendees also toured Acme’s Technical Center, a pacesetting research lab in operation for nearly 60 years. The tour culminated in a Texas-style barbeque lunch, where attendees had the opportunity to see the world’s largest brick, aka “Baby Clay.”

After lunch, attendees visited Meridian Brick’s west plant, a company that has been manufacturing bricks since the late 1800s. Meridian mines its own raw materials on 9 of its 263 acres. It also produces 110 million king-size residential bricks annually. The company’s claims to fame include supplying bricks to rebuild the sea wall in Galveston after the hurricane of 1900 and paving 45 miles of highway from Mineral Wells to Fort Worth.

SCPD chair John Hewitt along with SCPD and SW Section officers presented Ed Watson, Acme senior vice president, and Bob Studer, Meridian’s area operations manager, with certificates of appreciation for hosting the plant tours.

ACerS SCPD and SW Section officers present Ed Watson, Acme’s senior vice president, with a certificate of appreciation for hosting this year’s plant tour and luncheon. From left: John Hewitt, Interstate Brick Company (SCPD chair); Watson; Harland Dixson, Acme Brick Company (SW Section chair); and Mike Walker, NBCR (SCPD secretary). Credit: Greg Geiger

SCPD chair John Hewitt presents Meridian Brick’s area operations manager, Bob Studer, with a certificate of appreciation at the start of the plant tour. Credit: Greg Geiger


Networking and awards

Meeting attendees reconnected with old friends and built new relationships at the Suppliers Mixer on Wednesday and at the networking reception on Thursday, which preceded the awards banquet.

At the banquet, John Hewitt received a certificate of appreciation for his service as SCPD chair. Harland Dixson received the SW Section Past Chair Award, and Brian Christenson, Acme Brick’s engineering manager, received the SW Section Harry E. Ebright Award.

Fred McMann, ACerS Southwest Section counselor, welcomes attendees to the awards banquet. Credit: Greg Geiger

Incoming SCPD chair John Dowdle of Prince Minerals LLC presents John Hewitt with a certificate of appreciation for his service as SCPD chair. Credit: Greg Geiger

John Spence of Acme Brick presents the SW Section’s Past Chair Award to Harland Dixson. Credit: Greg Geiger

Brian Christenson, Acme Brick’s engineering manager, accepts the SW Section Harry E. Ebright Award from José Amate. Credit: Greg Geiger

The meeting concluded on Friday with the NBRC annual meeting. Speakers John Sanders, NBRC director, and Mike Walker, testing services manager, shared the latest research from the Center.