Acme Brick Honored with Spirit of Enterprise Award
Company honored by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce
Acme Brick’s job is to help build cities nationwide, says President and CEO Dennis D. Knautz.
The 125-year-old company has no better showcase than Fort Worth, Acme’s hometown.
“We think that we have helped make Fort Worth a special place,” Knautz said, from brick streets to brick buildings. “Look at Main Street, Sundance Square, Camp Bowie, the Fort Worth Convention Center, the Stockyards and on and on,” including the array of homes in historic and emerging residential developments throughout Cowtown. “We feel that our brick products have helped Fort Worth have a unique character and charm that sets it apart.”
Those are among the reasons the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce honored Acme Brick with the Chairman’s Spirit of Enterprise Award at the Chamber’s 134th annual meeting, presented by The Dannon Company, at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel June 14. The Spirit of Enterprise Award, the Chamber’s highest honor, is given annually to a local organization that has demonstrated true commitment to local business growth and community development.
“Acme Brick stands among Fort Worth’s most trusted and essential partners in progress,” said Chamber President and CEO Bill Thornton. “They will always hold a special place in Fort Worth history as the first anchor tenant of -- and a major drawing card for -- the Clearfork development that has finally tapped southwest Fort Worth’s full economic potential.”
“Over the years, we have seen outstanding companies receive this recognition from the Chamber,” Knautz said. “It is truly an honor to be recognized alongside these other great Fort Worth businesses who have done so much for so long to help make Fort Worth a special place to live and work.”
Entrepreneur George Bennett launched Acme in 1891 near Millsap in Parker County. Early challenges included providing brick in 1902 for construction of the Swift and Armour meat packing plants in what is now the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Acme moved to Fort Worth in 1911 and has grown to become the nation’s largest company producing brick and masonry-related products. Nationwide, Acme has more than 60 company-owned sales locations and 26 brick plants in the central and southeastern U.S.
Knautz guesstimates Acme has produced around 42 billion brick.
In 1968, renamed as First Worth Corp., Acme merged with the Justin Companies of Fort Worth and Louisiana Concrete Products, creating the highly successful Justin Industries esteemed for “boots and bricks.” The operation’s track record of excellence and outlook attracted legendary business magnate Warren E. Buffett. In 2000, Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway bought Justin Industries, bringing Acme Brick into the multinational conglomerate holding company that also includes other Fort Worth-based companies BNSF Railway, Justin Brands and TTI.
With Buffett’s promise in 2000 to keep Acme Brick in Fort Worth, the company moved in 2006 to consolidate operations at a new headquarters.
“The Fort Worth Chamber, and (Chamber President) Bill Thornton in particular, helped us look at several options,” Knautz said. One site was on Edwards Ranch acreage designated for the planned Clearfork project’s major retail-office-residential development long needed in southwest Fort Worth.
“When Bill brought me to this location, I told him our shopping was done,” said Knautz. “It was an extraordinary testament to the Edwards family who carved out a corner of their future development for us.”
Groundbreaking in 2006 cleared the way for Clearfork’s first anchor tenant. “While our building was under construction, the infrastructure for Clearfork as well as for the Chisholm Trail Parkway was being built,” Knautz said.
The 77,000-square-foot, three-story headquarters at 3024 Acme Brick Plaza opened in 2007, wrapped with an elegant façade of red brick.
About the Author
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, with more than 2,300 member businesses, is the largest chamber in North Texas. Through business-to-business marketing, educational events, economic development, workforce development and government advocacy, the Fort Worth Chamber assumes a leadership role in making Fort Worth, the 16th largest city in the U.S., a premier location in which to live, work and do business.