"Brick Matching Expert"
From his birth, the brick industry has played a significant role in Rick Conner’s life. The house on a hill where he lived as a child overlooked a brick plant in southeastern Ohio where his father and several uncles worked for years. Beginning around the age of seven, Rick and other children played together in the storage yard of the brick plant, sometimes climbing up the stair-stepped brick stored there. These surroundings and his family background naturally influenced his decision to enroll at Hocking College where he studied Ceramic Engineering and Heat Processing Engineering for three years. Recruited by Bickley Furnaces right out of college, Rick was hired as a Field Service Engineer.
Rick traveled all over North America and was responsible for doing kiln start-ups and operations for many companies who ordered industrial kilns from Bickley. Setting up a massive kiln designed for a manufacturer, checking the newly erected kiln against its blueprints, clearing the kiln for use by making certain all its systems were operational, training employees in proper use of all of the kiln’s functions, and staying with the project through the kiln’s first successful run often took many weeks of Bickley engineers and technicians working together, on-site, to accomplish.
Understanding kiln set up and kiln functions gave Rick an understanding of some of the problems that can occur with bricks’ physical properties and outward appearance. His experience and knowledge eventually led him to invent solutions for some of these problems. As a side note, one of his service calls while he was at Bickley was at a kiln in Cleveland that fired some of the ceramic tiles used on NASA’s Space Shuttles.
From Bickley Furnaces, Rick went to work for Glen-Gery’s brick manufacturing plant in Caledonia, OH, as a Quality Control Engineer in 1983. Rick served in many supervisory roles during his thirteen years at the Caledonia plant: Packaging Supervisor, Manufacturing Supervisor, and Shapes Supervisor. While working in these various capacities, he simultaneously served as Kiln Engineer for the plant.
During these years, Rick had the opportunity to meet Don Foster who was in Sales for Glen-Gery. They first met at one of the G-G corporate meetings. They interacted fairly often since Sales Representatives like Don fielded customer complaints and needed Rick’s input and assistance to accomplish complaint resolutions. Over the years, they developed a mutual respect and admiration and became good friends. This led to their eventual partnership in Masonry Cosmetics.
A man who made a difference in Rick’s career during those years was a fellow named Frank Mead. He was known as the Million Dollar Man and was the Plant Supervisor. His kiln recoveries and keeping a huge brick kiln up and running 24/7, no matter what, were in the 97% range, a success rate which was unheard of. Originally a country boy from Kentucky, he was self-taught, a stickler for how things were done, and tough as nails. During Rick’s tenure at the Caledonia plant, they fired a very popular Rosewood Brick that held the highest sales records at that time for the entire Glen-Gery Corporation. The pains that Mr. Mead took in recoveries and production made a difference for the entire company. His decisions to hire both Rick, and later Rick’s brother, Chris, made a huge difference in their lives, as well.
Most of the positions that Rick held at Glen-Gery required work that was very close to the 1,850 degree kilns at any time of the day or night since Glen-Gery’s tunnel kilns ran 24/7. If a kiln needed a repair in the midst of a firing, often a group of technicians would work together like a relay team to accomplish it. One would work in 100°+ heat for a time, and then another would take his place, and so forth until the repair was complete. Other complicating factors in production included winter storms that prevented employees from getting to work. Those who could make it to the plant had to work longer and harder, and often had to cover more than just their own positions in order to keep up with the automated brick production coming from the kilns. Upper management and workers alike bundled up against the cold and pitched in together to keep up with the kilns’ feverish output.
While Rick began his career at the age of 21, it was only 6 years later, at the age of 27, when his technical focus began centering on color correction work with brick. His experience in all his positions helped him understand the importance of blending brick and of matching brick from run to run. His Technician status in Textures and Slurries also gave him insight on how various coatings affect the surface of brick.
Rick’s developing expertise in this area came quickly to the fore. Glen-Gery owned 17 brick plants, yet if a brick color correction problem arose at any one of those plants, that plant’s manager would request Rick’s assistance. This required him to travel from his plant to another Glen-Gery plant to resolve the problem. Even though Rick was employed at the Caledonia, OH plant, he was, in fact, serving all 17 Glen-Gery plants, thereby
resolving brick coloration challenges faced by the entire company. Rick also traveled throughout the U.S. for Glen-Gery to resolve clients’ issues with off-color brick. One of the highlights of his years at Glen-Gery was supervising multiple crews in staining an 8-story medical building in New York. Another highlight was correcting a brick coloration problem for a Judicial Center in West Islip, New York.
These experiences allowed Rick to develop a unique expertise and technique that he thought could be better utilized by starting his own masonry staining company in the early 90s. Rick also was invited to speak at Clemson University’s Brick Forum in the 90s in recognition of his longstanding, nationwide reputation for excellence in the staining field. For almost 30 years, Rick has traveled the U.S. using Masonry Cosmetics’ proprietary color enhancement system to stain brick, block, and mortar for countless manufacturers. He has seen firsthand how masonry staining can resolve many major complaints and can be utilized successfully in cases where there are no other solutions for the problem. The unique process Rick developed has proven itself time after time, and it will continue to do so because of the enduring nature of Masonry Cosmetics’ stains coupled with the effectiveness of its staining process. Without question, Masonry Cosmetics is the best product and technique on the market.
Rick lives in Caledonia, OH, with his wife Joy and their dogs, surrounded by many nieces, nephews, and family. He enjoys winter vacationing in Florida, going to Bike Week every March in Daytona Beach, Florida, an event for motorcyclists, and continues to be active as President of Masonry Cosmetics, Inc.