"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
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