The Three Beldens: 5th Generation Management Team: The Belden Brick Company

Words:

Words and Photos: Don Foster, Co-Founder & President of Masonry Cosmetics Inc.

Everyone in our industry knows The Belden Brick Company. Attributes such as integrity, quality, and excellence are associated with their name. There are fascinating stories woven throughout the 137 years they have been in business. One involves a law firm, Belden and McKinley, in which McKinley was a partner, later a U.S. Congressman, the Governor of Ohio, and finally the President of the United States. Another follows the career of a University of Notre Dame and Dallas Cowboy Quarterback, Robert F. “Bob” Belden, who currently serves as CEO and Chairman of the Board for Belden Brick Company. We could also reflect on the history of Belden Brick’s founder, Henry S. Belden, who locates deposits of coal, shale, and clay on the Belden Farm in Ohio. Building a small kiln, he studied the effects of firing temperatures on the clay and shale – the very beginnings of The Belden Brick Company we know today! These stories and others like them can be found in their printed booklet, The Belden Brick History: A Legacy of Outstanding Performance. A wonderfully informative read, it is definitely worth the time!

Yet untold are the stories of the three Beldens: Brian, Brad, and Robert T. These cousins serve as the 5th Generation Management Team of The Belden Brick Company. Their three fathers made up the 4th Generation Management Team. I had the opportunity to sit down with one of those fathers, Robert F. “Bob” Belden, and ask him why the three boys didn’t work in the brick business while growing up. Bob F. shared that, in his time, there were 24 family members (17 boys and seven girls), yet only a few positions to fill. And when it was time for the fifth Belden generation to step in, the Belden family had grown even larger. All three cousins grew up outside the business with other plans for their careers, but as time went on, those plans all changed back to the family brick business.

The first of these 5th-generation cousins to join the family business was Brian Belden. His father, William H. “Bill” Belden, Jr., of the 4th Generation Management Team, played a large role in the success of the Belden Brick Company. Bill retired in 2015 as Chairman and Chief Executive Office but still holds the position of Director today.

Brian and Joanna and their family.
Pictured from left to right are Jackson, Kristen, Joanna, Conner, Brian, and Blake.

Brian joined Belden Brick in 1997 as Marketing Coordinator. Promoted in 2016 to Vice President of Sales and Marketing, he holds that position today. A graduate from the University of Akron with a Bachelor’s in Business & Organizational Communication, he worked as a golf pro in Florida (1993‒1997) and in sales with Edwin Watts Golf Shops (1995‒1997) prior to joining Belden Brick. He focuses on building the brand for the future and providing products to meet market demand. Brian leads a very strong, knowledgeable, and talented group of Regional Sales Managers that tremendously care for the needs of their customers.

Robert T. “Bob” Belden was the second cousin on board. His father, Robert F. “Bob” Belden of the fourth generation, is currently Belden Brick Company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. A legend in his own right, Robert F. has shown incredible leadership in the industry and has a storied career himself. 

Robert T. and Ashley and their family.
Pictured from left to right are Robert T., Ashley, Bobby, Lily, and Charlie.

Robert T. started in 2004 as Assistant Vice President of Production at Belden Brick. He took on the position of Vice President of Production in 2005, where he continues to serve today. Graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Science in Finance, Robert T. served two years in Jamaica with the Peace Corps, assisting with small business development. Upon his return to the States, he worked for International Paper Co. (1998‒2002). Robert T. knows and understands every aspect of making good quality brick and keeps pace with improvements to the ever-aging brick plants. Adding new technology such as robotics and automation to the Belden Brick Company plants took the stress off of labor and improved efficiency.

Brad Belden was the third member of Generation Five’s Management Team to join Belden Brick. His father, John Belden, retired in 2016 as Executive Vice President and served on the 4th Generation Management Team.

Brad and Aimee and their family.
Pictured from left to right are Avery, Brad, Aimee, and Griffin

Brad, now President of Belden Brick, began his work in Environmental Health and Safety in 2004 and later in the Quality, Purchasing, and Customer Service areas of the company. Graduating from Boston College with a degree in Finance, he worked with Stafford Trading at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (1998‒2000) and with JPMorgan Chase in New York City (2000‒2004). Brad contributed greatly to formalizing policies and procedures regarding regulatory compliance and energy efficiency.

Other family members and their contributions certainly deserve mention here. John J. Streb, Jr., another fifth-generation cousin, started in 2007 and serves as Quality Manager and Environmental Technician. His mother was Molly Belden Streb, John Belden’s sister. Julia Johnson, daughter of Robert F and sister to Robert T, served for a time as an architectural sales representative in the Manhattan area.

It is quite an achievement for a family-owned business to thrive for five generations. One of the leading family-owned brick manufacturers since 1885, Belden Brick has over 500 colors, 20 different sizes, 13 textures, and every kind and shape of brick you can imagine. They do it all! Brad, President of Belden Brick Company, said they try to offer as many products as architects can dream up. And while most of their production is architecturally driven, they have great residential products, too. Belden Brick currently operates six plants with a 200 million brick capacity potential and a workforce of close to 500 employees.

It makes a statement when a brick manufacturer stamps its name on the back of their brick. The Belden Brick Company stamps their name on all their single-face extruded brick. The brand’s excellent performance and the company’s commitment to quality and integrity speak for themselves. Add in the adventures and achievements of family members through generations, and you’ve got an incredible story.

Another common factor throughout the generations is the volunteer work that Belden Brick’s leaders have taken part in. These vital commitments are continued by the fifth generation today. Brian, for example, serves on the Board of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, also serves as Vice Chairman of Aultman Hospital, and sits on the local Economic Development Board. Robert T sits on the local YMCA Board, and Brad sits on the Canton Chamber Board and the Board of Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.

Like the commitments previous Belden generations made to this Industry, the commitments of the fifth are notable as well. To name a few, Brian serves on the Marketing, Sales & Training Committee at the Brick Industry Association, Brad is involved with the Government Affairs Committee at the Brick Industry Association, and Robert T was Chairman of the National Brick Research Center a few years ago.

The Belden Brick Company has the added commitment of becoming a Strategic Partner of the Masonry Contractor Association of America. Also, supporting and supplying the brick for the Masonry Skills Challenges and the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 held at the World of Concrete, along with all the regional qualifiers where the company donates about 80,000 modular bricks a year. The brick and masonry industry is what Belden Brick’s history is tied to, and their commitment has been proven from generation to generation.

As the fifth generation runs and operates The Belden Brick Company for years to come, we look forward to what the future holds. Robert F. “Bob” Belden summed it up best for us when he said, “The Fifth Generation Management Team is made up of three trustworthy, hard-working and honest self-starters. They get along well, and their individual strengths complement each other. Belden Brick’s future looks bright!”

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