Case Studies

Potomac Valley Brick & Supply Co. (PVB)

The largest clay-brick distributor in the mid-Atlantic builds on 40 years

Potomac Valley Brick & Supply Co. (PVB) is celebrating 40 years in business this year. With seven locations throughout Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay region and northern Virginia, PVB has built an extensive customer base and loyal following. The family-run company has one of the widest selections of brick in the business as a full-service masonry supplier of face brick, paving brick, concrete masonry units, stone, glass block, structural glazed facing tile and an array of associated masonry products.

A family foundation

PVB started as a father-son venture in 1976 with Jack and Alan Richardson and their then partners, Ron Hurley and Bud Keesling. After his father passed away and the other partners sold their shares, Alan was left to run the operation with the help of his wife, Kathleen Richardson and brother, David Richardson at his side. Today, PVB remains in the family with Alan’s sons, Mark Richardson, who serves as the company’s accountant, and Brad Skorupinski, PVB’s general manager.

For PVB, “family” extends well beyond the Richardson name; it is a designation also given to close employees, longstanding customers and vendors. “We run our business on the core family values of kindness, respect, honesty, responsibility and integrity,” says Alan Richardson, owner and president of PVB.

Today, PVB has grown to seven locations — six in Maryland (the newest in Frederick) and one in northern Virginia. The company offers product showrooms at each location and has stocking yards located in Newington, Virginia, and Gaithersburg, Baltimore, Salisbury and Easton, Maryland, to maintain a broad inventory. “Our corporate headquarters are in Rockville, Maryland, but our newest location and stock yard is in Frederick,” says Mark Fuss, vice president of sales and marketing for PVB.

Potomac Valley Brick & Supply Co.PVB’s locations offer extensive selection and the company’s 90-plus staff offer the expertise to meet customers’ needs. “Our sales team averages 13-plus years of industry experience,” says Mark. “We have some folks who have been here for 30-plus years.”

This experience allows PVB’s staff to tackle any building or project challenge, big or small. Area contractors, architects and other design professionals have come to rely on this knowledge and expertise in product selection, design and application. “Our relationships with the architects and builders in this industry extend many years,” says Mark. “Part of it is because how long we’ve been around and how we’ve focused on fostering these relationships, but also because we’re really focused on the front-end specification of the product which really pulls through the sale. We’re really a spec driven company, which helps builders and architects a great deal.”

The best selection in the mid-Atlantic

Cement and mortar, commercial brick, hardscaping products, manufactured and cast stone, concrete or clay pavers, fireplace products and accessories, stone cladding systems, reclaimed brick and stone, natural stone — name the product and PVB more than likely has multiple options in each category. “We represent more than 60 manufacturers,” says Mark. “We’ve been fortunate to establish longstanding relationships with the top brick manufacturers. For most manufacturers and product lines we carry, we’re consistently at or near the top distributors in this region. That’s part of the reason we’ve been able to gather so many lines. People want to work with us because it’s a two-way partnership; we’re true to them and we look out for their well-being. We have a large army that covers our territory and works to get these products specified.”

Some of these names include ACME Brick, Advanced Building Products, Boral, Belden, Carolina Ceramics, Alliance, Arriscraft, Continental Brick Company, Cloud Ceramics, Elgin Butler, Gridworx and many more trusted material manufacturers. Once PVB builds a relationship with a manufacturer, the company establishes a certain sales territory; something Mark says is unique to the brick industry. “We have strong sales territories and a strong market in the territory we serve in the mid-Atlantic,” says Mark. “Specific sales territories don’t always occur in other industries, but it’s been a longstanding tradition in the brick industry.”

The territory PVB serves has a history of using brick and related masonry materials as a main form of construction. “Our region is a very strong brick market. If you look at cities such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C., you can see they were built by brick, brick sidewalks and brick buildings — it’s everywhere. This is part of the reason why we’ve been so successful over the years,” adds Mark. “This is a hot construction market, especially in D.C. right now, which is our core market.”

The newest addition to PVB’s geographic lineup is a distribution yard in Frederick, Maryland, which will help the company many a more inland push west. “In 2013, we acquired Eastern Shore Brick and the Frederick yard followed so we’re still working on establishing ourselves in these markets,” says Mark.

Brickstainability

Operating in the greater Washington, D.C., market where many companies and government facilities are leading the green building push for improved energy efficiency, sustainable design and overall improved occupant health, PVB has worked to highlight brick as a natural building material, ideal for Net Zero Building. Since 2010, PVB has helped develop and sponsored the annual BrickStainable Conference, an event to raise the bar for integrative design in all areas of the built environment, while promoting standards and practices that encourage the use of inherently sustainable materials such as brick.

Made in the U.S. from abundant natural resources, brick’s benefits include virtually endless design flexibility through a growing palette of colors, textures and sizes; superior durability with a 100-year life span, low- to no-maintenance exteriors and superior wind resistance and savings on heating and cooling costs from exceptional thermal mass not found in lighter materials.

The BrickStainable International Design Competition invites innovative builders from around the world to Washington, D.C., to recognize those who have created sustainable architecture designs using brick as the primary material. PVB hosts the awards ceremony at the National Building Museum — a building constructed with more than 15 million bricks. Guests include representatives from the Energy Star program, Enterprise Green Communities and the Brick Industry Association.

While brick will always be the foundation of PVB, Mark says the company is welcoming growth from other related building material. “We’re looking at more manufactured and cultured stone, natural stone and building veneer products — natural or manufactured,” says Mark. “Thin brick is also gaining in popularity, because lots of people like the look of a brick wall in their home but they don’t have the support structure. This product just sticks to the wall to offer the appealing look.”

“Brick isn’t going anywhere,” adds Mark. “You get that rich look and feel from brick that you can’t get from other materials.” With a booming brick market in the mid-Atlantic, potential for new product line growth, a loyal customer following and tenured team, Potomac Valley Brick & Supply Company continues a 40-year tradition as one of the best in the business.

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