By CHRIS AGEE
After being closed for more than three years because of a struggling home construction market, the site of Acme Brick's first factory reopened earlier this year in Millsap.
Established April 17, 1891, the Bennett Brick plant began to expand and is currently the largest U.S. brick manufacturer with affiliated companies located in 15 states. Acme is also recognized as one of the few major American-owned brick companies.
To commemorate its storied history, with deep roots in this community, President and CEO Dennis Knautz said Acme Brick continued its annual tradition of giving gifts to employees throughout the company.
In celebrations at each of the plant's locations, Knautz said associates will receive a roadside assistance kit stocked with jumper cables, flashlight, rain poncho and other emergency products.
"This is an item that nearly everyone can use. We expect that our associates will really jump all over the idea. After all, everyone needs a little boost now and then," he joked. "On a more serious note, we want to thank our customers for their support of Acme products over these many, many years."
The company's success also depends on its employees, and Knautz has expressed gratitude for the perseverance of local workers during the Bennett plant's hiatus.
When manufacturing halted in 2009, he said the plant did not remain dormant.
With 23 million bricks in inventory, Knautz said Acme continued to sell bricks and more than 10 key employees remained on the payroll by working locally and at other Acme plants across the nation.
"They made a personal sacrifice," he said, marking the plant's return to production in February. "Now that we're restarting the plant, they get to be home."
By engaging in a yearly celebration, Knautz said the company can reflect on the importance of such a lengthy legacy.
"One reason to recognize our birthday is to remind all of us at Acme how fortunate we are to have a thriving company after well over a century in business," he said.