This year is a special one for METROBRICK’s parent company Ironrock. This year – 2016 – marks the anniversary of 150 years of high-quality brick and tile manufacturing.
In 1866, Jacob Renkert, the company’s founder, began his career in brick manufacturing. Today, Ironrock remains a fifth generation family owned company located in Canton, Ohio. The company is now under the direction of Guy Renkert, President, and CEO.
As is likely to happen in a span of time that includes two world wars and a great depression, the product focus has changed over the years to meet the demands of the day. For example, Jacob Renkert began his career making fire brick for the iron industry. By 1889, he turned his attention to making paving bricks for an ever expanding roadway system. At one time, the Metropolitan Paving Brick Company was the largest road paving brick manufacturer in the world. The company’s heritage also includes the production of structural glazed facing tile and refractory brick.
In the 1970’s the company saw the need for a durable slip resisting tile product for demanding applications and began to focus on the production of extruded quarry tile. Today Ironrock is well known, under the Metropolitan Ceramics® brand, as the largest quarry tile manufacturer in the United States. It was also at this time that the company began its first inroads into manufacturing thin brick with the development of a thin brick panel system that may have been a bit ahead of its time.
With the introduction of METROBRICK® in 2002, Ironrock built on its heritage and returned to the production of thin brick. This time, Ironrock found the market ready for thin brick solutions. Back when Ironrock entered into quarry tile manufacturing they did so with a brand new production facility, one that was designed to extrude and fire thin material. Having a plant that was designed to extrude thin was a great advantage in manufacturing thin brick.
The system was already in place to give the market the type of thin brick it required, one that was consistent, durable, and dependable. Today, METROBRICK® is specified on buildings throughout the country. And METROBRICK® continues to add to its product offering with additional colors and finishes. The most recent examples are a charcoal color and a vertical wire cut finish available in modular size on both flats and corners.
Ironrock is able to celebrate 150 years in brick and tile manufacturing because of a commitment to doing things the right way combined with a willingness to adapt to the needs of a changing market. METROBRICK® is the culmination of those years of experience and dedication.
One visible example of Ironrock’s commitment has been the addition of automation and robotics over the last number of years at key intervals throughout the production process. And as a visible way to pay homage to generations of family leadership over the years, the company has taken to naming various robots on the production floor after key figures. Names such as Hal, Steve, Harry, Amy, and, of course, Jacob can be seen in bold block letters on various robotic arms. Ironrock continues to provide quality products like METROBRICK® because of this commitment to look forward while still honoring the past.