Summit Brick Company is a masonry manufacturer and distributor located in Colorado. Summit Brick consists of three manufacturing plants (Summit plant and showroom, Lakewood plant) and one sales and showroom office (Lakewood, CO) that serves the commercial, architectural and residential markets. Founded in 1902, Summit Brick has a long history in masonry and specializes in custom blends, sizes, colors and textures. Summit Brick has a vast line of masonry products and supplies that are distributed locally, and Summit Brick also manufactures clay brick that are shipped to customers across North America. With a commitment to customer service, Summit Brick looks to offer a top quality masonry product that is sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Inspiring Architectual Elegance...
Summit Brick & Tile Co. (Summit plant), a clay brick manufacturing facility, is located in Pueblo, CO. This location is also Summit Brick Company’s headquarters and has a full product showroom for customers in Southern Colorado. The Summit plant currently serves many markets, specializing in dozens of types, styles, and colors of brick along with a full array of masonry products. Over the years, the Summit plant has developed its manufacturing capabilities to serve both the architectural, commercial, and residential markets. Everything is made from a half-inch thin brick profile to 8x4x16 structural hollow clay masonry. Being a very flexible plant, the Summit plant can adapt to architectural needs and produce many custom products and blends. The Summit plant’s wide distribution network and unique product makes it possible for their product to be shipped to customers across North America. Summit Brick & Tile Co. is a division of Summit Brick Company.
“Gold Fever” had struck Joseph Welte in the year of 1888. Born in 1866 in Iowa, he had grown up working on farms and at a brickyard before deciding to set out west in search of his gold, bringing with him his earnings from his previous jobs. With mining claims in Cripple Creek, Colo., and Alaska along the Yukon River, he was more than determined to find his riches. After coming to the realization that neither area was going to provide his fortune for him, he moved on to Phoenix, Ariz., where he began to recoup his losses from his adventures by managing a brick plant. His distaste for extremes in weather drove him back to the milder climate of Pueblo, Colo. In 1902, he founded his own company, Summit Brick & Tile Co.
His son, Ralph Welte, dedicated nearly fifty years of his life to the company from 1943 until his death in 1992. During his years at Summit, he continued to expand the business with improvements in both manufacturing and marketing. Summit was one of the first brick companies to market their products outside the traditional local selling market. Ralph’s wife, Frances Welte contributed to the rich history of the company by being one of the nation’s premier collectors of brick and started a brick museum in Summit’s office at 13th and Erie. Ralph and Frances’ children, Joseph Welte, Thomas Welte, and Anne Henne are third generation owners of Summit. Other family members involved with the company include Edward Henne, Nanci Welte, and the fourth generation, which consists of Mark Welte, Matthew Welte, John Welte and Paul Welte.
Lakewood Brick & Tile Co. (Lakewood plant) is located in Lakewood, CO and is a clay brick manufacturing facility. The Lakewood plant’s ability to create custom, unique and innovative blends has given them a great reputation for being able to match difficult blends. By specializing in modular colors, tumbled blends, rock face and thin brick, the Lakewood plant is able to offer customers a wide selection to meet customer’s design needs. Through the use of modern controls and computerized production, capacity has been increased from about seven million brick per year during the 1950’s to approximately twenty million brick per year today. Their market has also greatly expanded with a distributor network spanning the United States and Western Canada. With the recent addition of the Denver City Collection of thin brick and face brick, the Lakewood plant is giving new options to designer’s ideas and imaginations. The Lakewood plant is a very versatile plant enabling it to produce the numerous colors, textures and blends for today’s architectural needs. Lakewood Brick & Tile Co. is a division of Summit Brick Company.
Lakewood Brick & Tile Company's origin stretches back to 1919 when two Dennison brothers from Kansas opened the plant. At that time, the roads in the area including Colfax Ave., were gravel and Denver along with Lakewood were just beginning to develop. The clay used to manufacture the first brick produced came from the property location as well as by wagon from private providers. The beginning of the company was a difficult one when times were hard and all deliveries were made by horse and wagon. Clay was mined with a pick and shovel, wheelbarrow, and a scraping plow (called a slip or Fresno) pulled by horses.
The Dennison brothers held on to the plant until the Great Depression, when it was sold in 1931 to Summit Pressed Brick & Tile Company, owned by Joseph Welte and headquartered in Pueblo, Colorado. William Nason, Welte’s brother-in-law, was the General Foreman at Summit and transferred to become Vice President and General Manager of Lakewood. By this time, Lakewood had four round, down-draft beehive kilns for producing the brick that are today still a foundation of Denver’s landscape.
In 1951, Jim Murray was named General Manager of the company. Murray came to Lakewood Brick because he had tired of life with the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, which included nine moves for his family in four years. He envisioned a family owned business offering freedom from the oppressions of a large corporation. Through years of hard work and dedication, he became President of Lakewood and also was part owner with the Welte family.
In the fifties, Lakewood added two more beehive kilns in order to increase their production capabilities; however, by the early sixties it was clear that the six kilns lacked the needed capacity to satisfy the market. In 1964, Lakewood added a 300-foot continuous tunnel kiln which is still in service today.
After Murray’s passing, his son Tom took over responsibilities as the president and general manager of Lakewood. He had the opportunity to grow up working in the business and worked side by side with his dad for many years.
Through the use of modern controls and computerized production, capacity has been increased from about seven million brick per year during the 1950’s to approximately twenty million brick per year today. Their market has also greatly expanded with a distributor network spanning the United States and Western Canada.
Summit Block is located in Gypsum, CO and is a block manufacturing facility. The Summit Block plant produces numerous styles of block and also produces JenStone and Rockwood retaining wall products. The Summit Block plant also offers a full array of masonry products including Borgert concrete pavers, fireplace materials and masonry supplies. The Summit Block plant (located west of Vail, CO) location offers service to the Colorado I-70 corridor and the Western Slope region. In March of 2007, Summit Brick Company purchased the Summit Block plant in order to expand its masonry product portfolio and to better serve the mountain regions of Colorado. Plant updates are ongoing in order to continue providing a high quality product to customers and architects. Summit Block is a division of Summit Brick Company.
|1902||The dry press method of making brick replaced the hand-molded soft mud brick. The dry press brick were fired in scove kilns (rectangular kilns without crowns or tops).|
|1908||Summit purchased Acme Brick Co., (which was located where University Blvd., now crosses the Fountain River in Pueblo) and made brick there until 1915. The machinery was then brought to the Summit plant and used there. In 1979 this machinery was sold to a developer in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where it is still being used.|
|1916||Summit purchased the National Clay Products Company in Colorado Springs, Colo.|
|1919||Dennison brothers open Lakewood Brick & Tile Co. in Lakewood, Colo|
|1922||The stiff mud process replaced the dry pressed method. Beehive kilns (down draft round kilns) replaced the scove kilns.|
|1930||Summit became the second industrial plant in Colorado to use natural gas. Summit and Lakewood both continue to use natural gas as their primary fuel.|
|1931||Summit purchased the Lakewood Brick and Tile Co. in Lakewood, Colo.|
|1941||Machinery installed to run clay through a vacuum chamber before it was extruded. The vacuum resulted in much denser brick with greatly reduced cracking. An entire new plant that included grinding, screening, and manufacturing equipment was added.|
|1964||Lakewood Brick & Tile Co. adds continuous or tunnel kilns to replace the beehive kilns for lowering handing costs, better fuel efficiency and more uniform brick.|
|1967||Summit Brick & Tile Co. adds continuous or tunnel kilns to replace the beehive kilns for lowering handing costs, better fuel efficiency and more uniform brick.|
|1971||Summit purchased the Trinidad Brick Company in Trinidad, Colo. This plant stopped production in 1978.|
|1974||Summit constructs three new buildings for the grinding plant, manufacturing plant and maintenance shop. New machinery installed throughout.|
|1979||Summit installs automatic handling machinery. The brick are now automatically stacked on the kiln cars with a machine that is controlled by a programmable controller. After drying, firing and sorting, the brick are automatically strapped with steel bands and packaged into bundles.|
|1983||Summit’s new showroom and office building was completed featuring passive solar heat, two Russian fireplaces and 5700 square feet for the brick and ceramic tile showroom and office space.|
|1987||Summit purchases Capco/Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and expands its tile and grout lines in New Mexico and Southern Colorado through Summit Brick and Tile of New Mexico. Summit’s brick showroom in Albuquerque is also expanded.|
|1997||Summit expands its product line to include manufactured stone veneer.|
|2000||Summit opens Summit Brick Tile Stone in Denver with a newly remodeled showroom.|
|2002||Summit celebrates its 100-Year Anniversary and updates the kilns with new, more efficient and cleaner burning burners and a pulse-fire system.|
|2003||Summit expands its product line to include cast stone and natural stone veneer.|
|2005||Summit Brick & Tile Co. builds new showroom in Lakewood, CO and combines sales and marketing efforts with Lakewood Brick & Tile Co. to form Summit Brick Company. Summit discontinues selling tile and grout lines.|
|2008||Lakewood Brick installs cutting saws to expand thin brick line. Lakewood’s Denver City Series is created to offer tumbled thin brick.|
In recognition of an exemplary commitment to employee safety and health, the Summit plant has received the OSHA Safety and Health Recognition Program (SHARP) Certification for the years (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). Summit successfully participated in a comprehensive safety and health onsite consultation survey conducted by the Consultation Program at Colorado State University. Summit has the prestige of being the only current company in Pueblo to be certified and one of 16 companies in Colorado to earn this certification. There are approximately 600 companies nationwide that have achieved the strict requirements to be certified.
Summit Brick Company currently serves many markets, specializing in dozens of types, styles, and colors of brick along with a full array of masonry products. Over the years, Summit has developed its manufacturing capabilities to serve both the architectural, commercial, and residential markets. Everything is made from a half-inch thin brick profile to eight-inch hollow clay masonry. Summit is a leader in the industry of producing and marketing Uniwall (Loadbearing) Brick. Currently Summit has Colorado showrooms in Pueblo and Lakewood along with a New Mexico showroom in Albuquerque. All of Summit’s manufacturing plants are in Colorado and are located in Pueblo, Lakewood and Gypsum. With a distributor network in 39 states and Canada, Summit currently ships approximately 40 percent of its production out of state, including international markets such as Japan.