Case Studies

Custom Brick and Supply Company Inc.: Providing Brick and Stone for Beautiful Buildings

  • Written by: Custom Brick and Supply Company Inc.: Providing Brick and Stone for Beautiful Buildings
  • Produced by: Custom Brick and Supply Company Inc.: Providing Brick and Stone for Beautiful Buildings
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Tom Fisher, president of Custom Brick and Supply Company Inc. (CBSC), recognizes tthe ongoing potential of a brick distribution company; brick homes are elegant and people want to own them. Studies published by the National Association of Home Builders show that 60 percent of the nation’s homebuyers prefer brick homes, mainly because bricks are good products. Brick homes are safe, relatively maintenance-free, are made of fireproof walls and consequently appraise higher than alternate materials. In addition brick is energy efficient; its mass qualities keep a home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

The Raleigh, N.C., company has a long history in the region. Tom’s father, D.T. Fisher, founded CBSC in 1961. D.T. felt that a company selling many different manufacturers’ brick under one roof would be more beneficial to customers, eliminating the need to visit multiple stores by providing a short, one-stop shop.

The company sold all kinds of brick – including regular extruded types, handmade, wood-moulds and glazed – from 1961 to the 1980s. CBSC then began to add related items, like mortar, sand, block and lintels. Over the last 10 years stone was added, including cast stone, cultured stone and natural stone. According to Tom, adding stone has proven to be a successful move, as it takes all this just to get by in today’s economy. Today CBSC provides the commercial, institutional and high-end residential markets with these varied products.

The Way Things Are

Tom had not planned to join his father’s company; instead, he worked in bank financing for five years after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) in the mid-’60s. Upon his mother’s suggestion, though, Tom returned to Raleigh in 1970. Tom then joined CBSC and has enjoyed the work, challenges and benefits ever since. When his father died in 1984, Tom took over as president of the company. Tom’s son, Grant, joined the company in 2001; the third generation is now being groomed to take over when Tom steps aside, and there could be challenges ahead.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” says Tom. “I’ve been through five recessions, and back then the federal government could tweak the prime rate and it’d come back. It’s one thing to go through a recession and know that it will end, it’s another to have things slow down for five years and just now glimpse light at the end of the tunnel.”

CBSC currently employs 17 people, which is down from its previous count of 27. CBSC’s sister company, Nash Brick Company (NBC), is located in Red Oak and has drastically reduced its manufacturing plant from 62 to five people. However, optimism among company employees persists. “With the experienced people we have and the facilities we’ve got we are well-poised to benefit from a strengthening economy,” says Tom. “Our showroom and yard are really superb, and our friendly service just tops it off.”

Past, Present and Future

The company has furnished the bricks for thousands of jobs since 1961, including for major shopping centers, schools, churches, homes, office buildings, sound barrier walls and even the governor’s mansion in Raleigh. CBSC is currently finishing the dental school at UNC-CH, in addition to another medical school building at East Carolina University, and an expansion of the New Hanover Hospital in Wilmington, N.C. The company is also working on another classroom building at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus. CBSC is beginning work on a new $138 million, three-story state psychiatric facility in Goldsboro, N.C., and two hotels in Raleigh.

Both Tom and Grant are actively looking for new ways to generate growth for CBSC. Grant is excited to reveal that the company has a plan to roll out an additional line of outdoor living products in 2012. Both father and son see that product diversity is helping the company get through the recession and are planning accordingly. “Brick is our mainstay, but the other items are vital to our health,” says Tom.

As a third-generation family business working its way through the recession, CBSC has certainly made a name for itself. Unlike his father before him, Tom Fisher encouraged his son to seek a different line of work before making a decision about returning to the family-owned company. Tom relates that Grant headed out west for a couple of years and was successfully supporting himself before making the same decision that he did nearly 30 years previously to return to the family business. Custom Brick and Supply Company Inc. is one of the last family-owned brick distribution companies in the region and the third generation is happily in place waiting to continue both the Fisher family tradition and the American way.

Published on: March 9, 2013

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