Southwest Section | The American Ceramic Society

Southwest Section

The roots of the Southwest Section go back to 1945 when eleven brick makers gathered at the University of Texas and organized the Ceramic Society of the Southwest. In 1951, this group was granted a charter by The American Ceramic Society as the Southwest Section. Its purpose is to promote all ceramic arts and sciences. Semi-annual meetings of two or three days include presentations of symposia, technical papers, suppliers’ exhibits, plant tours, a banquet, social program, golf outing, and companions’ program. Suppliers are invited to display their products at tabletop exhibits.



Chair: David Ziegler, Prince Corporation

Vice Chair: Mat Tramel, Acme Brick Company

Chair Elect: George Campbell, J.C. Steele & Sons

Secretary: Fred McMann, Fives North American Combustion

Treasurer: Harland Dixson, Acme Brick Company

Annual dues: $25 ($20 if over age 65)

Mail check for dues to:
Fred McMann
4102 Palmer Plantation
Missouri City, TX 77459

Meetings and Events

2018 marks the second time that the ACerS Southwest Section, the ACerS Structural Clay Products Division, and Clemson University’s National Brick Research Center joined forces to combine annual meetings to better meet the needs of the structural clay industry.  More than 90 attendees converged in Columbia, S.C., June 5–8, to take part in the combined meeting, and a record number of 18 companies sponsored this year’s meeting.

ACerS SCPD chair John Dowdle and SW Section chair-elect David Ziegler welcome attendees

The meeting kicked off with the NBRC Spring Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday morning. NBRC director John Sanders, testing services manager Mike Walker, and other NBRC staff provided the members with updates on current research and other updates on the Center.

On Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning, attendees heard from 12 industry experts on a wide range of topics, including topics on energy, such as powering a brick plant with the sun at Palmetto Brick, results of an energy efficiency project at Meridian Brick’s Muskogee, Okla. plant, faster drying and firing considerations, and an update on energy savings at the kiln. Other topics included advances in automation and robotics, thin brick processing and testing, tools to determine extrudability, advances in die technology, OSHA’s silica rule, and an overview on clay brick standards.

On Thursday attendees toured two brick plantsCarolina Ceramics and Meridian Brick, both located in Columbia. At Carolina Ceramics, CEO Michael Borden and plant manager Grady Hansen greeted attendees, and, along with other staff, guided attendees through the plant. Carolina Ceramics has the flexibility to produce a wide variety of sizes and colors using the combination of shale and kaolin raw materials and various additives.At Meridian Brick, attendees were greeted by operations manager Jason Smith and proceeded to tour its Columbia 4 Plant, which was built in 1972 and is located on a 400-acre site just off I-20 adjacent to the Broad River. The facility has a rich history and established commercial architectural line featuring unique colors and textures drawn from three supporting mines totaling over 900 acres.

Michael Borden greets attendees at Carolina Ceramics

Meeting attendees reconnected with old friends and built new relationships each evening in the hospitality suite, at the suppliers’ mixer reception on Wednesday and during a reception mixer which preceded the awards banquet on Thursday. Danser Inc. sponsored the pre-banquet reception and also took on the role of host for the hospitality suite.

Mike Alexander presents ACerS Global Ambassador Award to Fred McMann

During the banquet, ACerS president Mike Alexander greeted attendees and presented Global Ambassador Awards to two deserving recipients—John Sanders and Fred McMann. Sanders was recognized for his leadership, commitment, and dedication to the advancement of the brick and clay industry through ceramic education, research, and his support of ACerS Structural Clay Products Division meetings. McMann was recognized for his dedication and leadership in ACerS Southwest Section and his outstanding efforts in the organization of numerous SW Section meetings.

John Dowdle (Prince Minerals LLC) received a certificate of appreciation for his service as SCPD chair by incoming chair Luke Odenthal (Acme Brick). Japa Castro (Columbus Brick Company) received the SW Section Past Chair Award from Harland Dixson (Acme Brick) and John Spence (Acme Brick). Glenn Holladay (Materials & Ceramic Chemicals Inc.) received the SW Section Harry E. Ebright Award.

Check back for upcoming Southwest Section meetings!

All ACerS Meetings


The Southwest Section administers the Forrest K. Pence Memorial Scholarship Fund and The Robert and Mary Buttle Scholarship Fund.

Here is information about each of these scholarships:

The Robert & Mary Buttle Scholarship Program 
The Robert and Mary Buttle Scholarship Fund was established in 1993 to help students finance their college education. An explosion of unthought-of ceramic products and processes within the preceding 50 years created exceptional opportunities for ceramic engineers and scientists. There is particular need for applied and production engineering, as well as scientists.

Students of a recognized two- or four-year program of ceramic engineering or ceramic materials science are invited to apply for a grant from this fund, following successful completion of their first year.  Complete the application and enclose a recommendation from the department head or advisor. Be sure that qualifications are met according to the criteria on the application, listed in order of priority.  Download the application today!  Application deadline is May 1, 2019.

The Forrest K. Pence Memorial Scholarship Program 

Scholarship grants will be awarded to students working toward an undergraduate or graduate degree in a four-year program, although consideration will be given to those in a two-year degree/certificate program, providing other criteria are met. Applicants will be required to be sponsored by an active member of the Southwest Section of The American Ceramic Society. Download the application today!

Application deadline is May 1, 2019.

For information about scholarships, contact Rick Stickley.

Opportunities: ACerS Career Center

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