Brown’s Concrete At 100

In 1907, David L. Brown established in Sudbury, Ontario, the area’s first concrete products operation Brown’s Concrete Products, Ltd. to meet the demands

In 1907, David L. Brown established in Sudbury, Ontario, the area’s first concrete products operation Û Brown’s Concrete Products, Ltd. Û to meet the demands of a building boom spurred by an influx of workers drawn to the northern frontier’s burgeoning mining industry. At that time, Brown’s customers were supplied masonry units for which concrete was mixed by hand and poured into wooden molds. Before a decade had passed, a small, automated block-making machine, the first of its kind in the north, enabled production of 800 blocks per day. Once formed, blocks were carried by hand to the yard for curing in the sun and, depending on weather conditions, were sprayed to prevent excessive drying. By such means Brown’s Concrete contributed to the construction of local landmarks, including Sudbury’s New Methodist Church, the Princess Theatre, and the Nickel Range Hotel, as well as major bridges and luxury residences of the day.

The company’s 1958 acquisition by Johannes Herold and Taisto Eilomaa marked the beginning of a progressive stewardship under which the operation kept pace with technological advances. Trained as a tool and dye maker during apprenticeship in the exacting tradition of European trade guilds, Herold brought impeccable skills to the partnership, while Eilomaa’s mechanical experience and expertise further ensured a well run shop. Installing a fully automated block machine in 1961 eliminated the need to move blocks by hand, thereby boosting daily output to 5,000 blocks per day Û and even 8,000 per day on occasion. The Herold sons, Glenn, Gordon, and Manfred, eventually assumed leadership of the enterprise, providing direction for its continued growth.

In recent decades, the producer’s accomplishments have impacted both Canadian and North American markets. Canada’s first block in metric dimensions was fabricated by Brown’s Concrete in 1978. Shortly thereafter, in 1979, a second operation was established in Blind River to manufacture some of North America’s first interlocking paving stones. Following its introduction of segmental retaining walls to the local market in 1989, Brown’s 10-acre Sudbury site was revamped in 1992 with a $7 million investment to meet projected SRW demand.

Today, the company produces a complete line of concrete block, including Standard (Type A) and Lightweight (Type C or D) and colored units by special order, in accordance with CSA [Canadian Standards Association] standards and CCMPA [Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association] guidelines. Its architectural block offerings comprise a range of styles: solid split face, two-ribbed split, three-ribbed split, four-ribbed, four-ribbed split, six-ribbed split, split ledge, and scored block.

Besides specialty products fabricated in-house, including interlocking pavers and segmental retaining wall units, strategic alliances with other companies allow Brown’s Concrete to offer Bestway Stone’s Antico pavers; Pavnat flagstones; Unilock’s Designer Series pavers; Aqua Pave, a permeable paving stone system; and, Shouldice Designer Stone concrete brick. Among the latter offerings, Shouldice’s Fusion Stone is notable for its advancement of stone veneer technology. It comprises thin slices of concrete brick or stone and stainless steel hardware that eliminates the need for glue or mortar to secure units. Screwed in place by means of a few basic tools, Fusion Stone can be used on any wall type, new or old, including wood or steel studs, block or rigid foam. The system’s versatility allows a range of styles replicating stone, brick, architectural stone, and watertable/sills suited to transitional detailing.

Brown’s products are marketed throughout the northern U.S. and Ontario. The company is an active member of National Concrete Masonry Association Region VI (Manfred Herold recently was a NCMA board member), as well as the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association. Presently, three generations of Herolds involved in company operations look forward with their staff to what the future holds for Brown’s Concrete Products Ltd.

1907 David L. Brown establishes Brown’s Concrete Products Ltd. in Sudbury, Ontario
1958 Johannes Herold and Taisto Eilomaa purchase Brown’s Concrete
1961 Upgrading to a fully automated block machine increases production to 5,000 blocks per day
1969 Relocation to present plant site allows increased production and storage
1978 Company produces Canada’s first metric-sized block
1979 Brown’s is one of the first North American concrete producers to enter the paver market
1989 Enters SRW unit production
1992 $7 million plant upgrade facilitates major hardscape unit program