Brick Manufacturers To Form An Association. The brick manufacturers of Minnesota met the 1st of May in the rooms of the Minneapolis Builders’ exchange on Sixth street and in preparation for a business meeting. When it is possible that the assembly takes definite steps toward organizing a state association. The first meeting was purely informal and the entire time was devoted to social intercourse. The members present represented the brick making industry in every section of the state, and an exchange of ideas once a year is considered a benefit to all concerned. The brickmakers lack a thorough organization in Minnesota and it has long been the object of several prominent members of the craft to formulate plans for forming the manufacturers of the state into a strong association for the purpose of mutual benefit. Many of the brickmakers are aware that there are new tricks to the trade which are being discovered every day and that the only way for them to become cognizant of these new “wrinkles” is through association. At present with no organization, the manufacturers meet in a most informal manner once every year, but not being united, concerted action on any subject cannot be taken. (Clay Record, Clay Record Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, May 15, 1908, Volume XXXII, Number 9, Page 29)
Northern Brick Men Organize. The Minnesota Clay-Brick Manufacturers’ Association, Youngest of the State Bodies, Starts Off With Vigor and Enthusiasm. At Minneapolis on May 1st was born a bouncing youngster which has been christened the Minnesota Clay-Brick Manufacturers’ Association. While only an infant, it gives promise of becoming a most important factor in the clay-working world and will doubtless soon take equal rank with its older brothers in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. At this first meeting, which was preliminary, an organization was effected and George W. Higgins, Minneapolis, was named as president, and Rufus P. Morton, Brickton, Minn., as secretary. Trade topics and troubles furnished the subjects for discussion. There was some talk of attempting a standard specification for making brick, as well as other methods of improving business conditions. No definite actions was taken, however. Another meeting was called, to meet in Minneapolis, June 10th, at which numerous matters will be taken under consideration, and arrangements will be made for an annual convention to be held in January or February. It is intended to include in the organization brick manufacturers from Minnesota and adjoining states, and all brick men are invited to participate.
There was a fairly good attendance at the opening meetings, the representation being from all quarters of the state. The meeting was strictly executive, and a man had to be vouched for, if he was admitted to the sessions. As is usual with initial meetings, where no especial program has been worked out in advance, the plans proposed included many which were not regarded as feasible in any sense. The propositions of some conflicted seriously with the methods pursued by others. Some of those present wanted a horizontal reduction of production right through every yard represented, as a means of getting stocks down and prices up to a living basis. But this did not appeal in the slightest to the small brickmaker, whose output any season was only that of his own labor, and that of members of his family, and any reduction of production would mean nothing in the way of reduced expenses, but only of lessened stock with which to make a profit. A proposition to limit the territory worked, met with considerable objection on the part of some of the yards, which have worked up a good business covering quite a territory away from their plants. Another proposition was made of adopting a standard specification for the production of brick, which would serve to eliminate the cheapest of the common brick now on the market by adding to their cost as well as to their value.
So far as practical accomplishment was concerned, the meeting had little to show, but it served as an initial step toward doing better things and one which promises great good to the brick business of Minnesota and the northwest. A preliminary organization was effected, and committees were named to prepare plans and suggestions looking to the bettering of trade conditions. It is proposed that the annual meeting shall provide a program of value to the members, following somewhat on the line so successfully pursued by the associations in Iowa and Wisconsin. While it is early to outline any stated program which will be taken up, it will doubtless result in the freight question coming to the fore. The matter of freight rates is a live subject in Minnesota, and as commodity rates are now undergoing a test in the courts, through a hearing as to the reasonableness of certain rates proposed by the legislature, and while nothing may be taken up until the outcome of the case, the matter will certainly not be dropped permanently. (Brick and Clay Record, Kenfield-Leach Company, Chicago, IL, June 1908, Volume XXVII, Number 6, Page 226)
The New Minnesota Association. Another meeting of the Minnesota Clay Manufacturers was held in Minneapolis, June 10, largely for the completion of the preliminary steps hitherto taken at the May meeting. The attendance was fairly good, there being close to twenty of the leading yards in different portions of the state represented. The meeting was executive and no one was admitted except upon presenting authentic credentials. At this meeting the preliminary organization of May 2, was made permanent. George W. Higgins, of Minneapolis, president, and Rufus P. Morton, of Brickton, Minn., secretary. A plan was elaborated for the acquisition of a more extended membership throughout the state. The congressional districts have been accepted as the dividing lines, and membership chairmen for each district will make it their work to endeavor to get as many of the available brick manufacturers of their respective districts into the organization as possible.
While it is not exactly the intent to enter into a hard and fast arrangement on prices yet the fact that business is slack and prices are low has been accountable for the move to organize and it is very probable that among the steps included in the work of the organization, will be arrangements looking to the betterment of the prices obtained. There is no question that some of the prices named in Minnesota do not afford a living return on the investment, and as the tendency is downward, in view of the exceptional competition from other materials as well as from each other, some step must be taken if the business is to endure for many of those in the trade, whose capital is limited. Educational advancement is planned, and at the next meeting, which is called for August 12, in Minneapolis, there will be papers presented on various topics, a committee being appointed to arrange this matter. A comparison between clay and sand lime brick will be touched upon by one and economy in burning brick will form the topic of another. Other topics affecting the various items of the business will be taken up and discussed. (Brick and Clay Record, Kenfield-Leach Company, Chicago, IL, July 1908, Volume XXIX, Number 1, Page 306)
MINNESOTA. The Minnesota Clayworkers’ Association, at its October meeting, was again unfortunate in having a limited attendance. As a result, the meeting resolved itself largely into a kind of committee-of-the-whole, at which various means and plans were informally discussed. Plans were formulated to the end of securing a more general membership, and the secretary was directed to send every brickmaker in the state of Minnesota an invitation to attend the next meeting of the association, which is called for November 11th, at the rooms of the Builders’ Exchange, 17 South Sixth St., Minneapolis. (Brick and Clay Record, Kenfield-Leach Company, Chicago, IL, November 1908, Volume XXIX, Number 5, Page 502)