Feat of clay: it's the pits: Lee Brick still digs what it's doing on-site, but some others don't have a hole lot going for them.

Author:Martin, Edward
Position:PICTURE THIS - Mangements of Sanford Brick Corp
 
FREE EXCERPT

Hugh Perry's consortium wasn't the first to make brick in Lee County Both Sanford Brick Corp. and Borden Brick and Tile Co. had laid their foundations by 1951, when Perry and 10 Sanford businessmen got in on the post-World War II housing boom. But while others have exhausted their on-site shale, Lee Brick & Tile Co.'s is holding out fine--it will make about 40 million bricks this year. "Don't worry," says Mike Lilly, manufacturing vice president. "There'll be plenty left when I retire. And I'm in my 50s."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Perry bought out his partners in the late 1950s, and the company remains in family hands. His son Frank is CEO, and Frank's sons Don and Gil are president and vice president, respectively. Rad Holton, Frank's brother-in-law, is secretary-treasurer. That's not unusual. Brick-making is bedrock industry in North Carolina, which is second only to Texas in output, and most of the dozen manufacturers in the state are family-owned. Lee County became the center of the industry due to a 250 million-year-old swath of shale that begins in Granville County and runs almost to the South Carolina line. "A lot of companies located in the shale band," Lilly says. "There were a lot of ma-and-pa plants." Lee Brick's shale comes from its original pit, and it has four plants on the 20-acre site. "Brick plants are usually set up where the pits are out the back door, as close as possible to production."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Shale, a soft, fine-grained sedimentary rock that can be ground and moistened by nature or man into red clay, is dug from the pit and dumped into a crusher that grinds it to fist-sized chunks. It's screened, and small particles drop through. Larger pieces that don't pass through a hammer mill and get rescreened until they do. After, it's mixed with water to form clay that is extruded...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP