GULFPORT -- Acme Brick Co. is the nation's largest brickmaker and all its sales offices, including the one at 14245 U.S. 49 in Lyman, celebrated the company's 125th anniversary Friday.
The bricks sold at Gulfport and 69 locations across the country are made at the company's 26 plants. The process today typically uses a tunnel kiln and some computerization, but making bricks still is done much as it was centuries ago.
"Every plant has its own clay type that produces different colors," said Bill Davis, regional sales manager for Mississippi and Louisiana.
The many shades, sizes and styles of bricks are displayed in the store and in courtyards so customers can compare them side by side.
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Acme Brick still stamps its name on its residential brick and the company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway since 2000, gives a 100-year limited warranty on all residential brick.
The Gulfport sales office opened in 2011 after operating out of New Orleans for more than 50 years. "We need a place for people to come touch brick," Davis said.
Ryker Miles, a school teacher before 2005's Hurricane Katrina, turned to flipping homes and selling commercial real estate after the storm. He was helping Davis find property when Davis hired him as branch manager.
They've created a one-stop shop for builders, designers and architects.
"Our Gulfport Acme Brick Tile & Stone carries new and used brick in various looks and sizes," he said. Also available are porcelain and ceramic tiles, mosaics and pool tiles, pavers, wooden floors and glass block.
Miles said the firm just supplied the brick for River Oaks Elementary School and is preparing in July to ship 851,000 bricks for the new Biloxi Junior High School from Acme plants in Arkansas and Denver.
Homeowners who see stacked stone, bamboo flooring and elaborate outdoor fireplaces featured on television home shows request these products from Acme.
"We diversified and it's paid off," Davis said. The Gulfport office now sells iron doors, outdoor kitchens and grills, pizza ovens, fire pits and gas lamps.
Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said the city has a tradition of brick making, with much of the original brick in Gulfport made at Brickyard Bayou.
Acme Bricks was founded in 1891 and Hewes said, "To be able to last 10 years in business is an achievement, let alone 125 years. It speaks volumes about the company. Having Acme in Gulfport is a great thing."
The company has produced brick for more than two million homes and many thousands of commercial buildings in its 125 years.