In late 1945, Charles, along with his wife Marian and brother George H. Cook, held a community-wide dinner and formally presented their plans for building a face brick manufacturing plant to be named Cloud Ceramics. The venture was financed by the sale of corporate stock and 8% debentures.
George's son, Richard, joined Cloud Ceramics in 1946 and brick production began using ten "beehive" kilns. The first Ceramic Engineer, David Young, was hired to oversee construction of the facilities. The "beehive" kilns were 30 ft. in diameter, 16 ft. high and were fired by natural gas. This was a periodic type operation in which the brick were handled four times by workers from the time it was extruded to the time it was loaded onto trucks or rail cars. Cloud Ceramics produced 500,000 bricks per month.
Under Cook leadership the company prospered. In 1956 construction began on a new modern labor and energy efficient plant that featured a 403 ft. tunnel kiln designed by Harrop Ceramic Service Company. Production jumped to 4,000,000 bricks per month. In 2005 the addition of the new state-of-the-art Lingl plant more than doubled production.
Today Cloud Ceramics mines five different colors of clay from the same Dakota clay field in which the company began over 60 years ago. Cloud Ceramics manufactures over 30 different colors of brick in a variety of sizes and textures with distributors in 46 states. Known not only for its high quality standards, but also for vibrancy in color, this face brick is sold nationwide as well as in Canada. From office buildings, schools, homes and churches to restaurants, university & college buildings and businesses Cloud Ceramics is known as the "Cadillac" of brick lines. Architects, contractors, and homeowners choose Kansas brick from Cloud Ceramics for consistency and color uniformity. They have been in continuous operation since 1946 and can match bricks from previous construction projects.
Cloud Ceramics is an excellent example of developing resources indigenous to a county and creating a successful business that gives back to the community.
Kansas Brick & Tile, Hoisington is also owned by Cloud Ceramics.
HOW TO SEE WHAT THEY DO
Cloud Ceramics offers 45-minute guided tours for groups (15) Monday through Friday. It is fascinating to tour the facility. Call 785.243.1287 for arrangements.
Their web site (http://www.cloudceramics.com/) has a video, "The Birth of a Brick."
Cloud County Historical Museum at 7th & Broadway in Concordia also has a Cloud Ceramics display with photographs, bricks, tools and other memorabilia.
The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 1-5 p.m.
A SAMPLING OF BUILDINGS WITH CLOUD CERAMIC BRICKS
Concordia - First United Methodist Church, Cloud County Community College, United Bank, Central National Bank, Holiday Inn Express, Majestic Theatre, numerous residences.
Clyde Downtown Park, Andover Central High School, Harley Davidson (Wichita), Wichita North High School, Bethel College, Duke University, University of West Virginia, College of St. Catherine (St. Paul, MN), Bill Gates School of Law (Washington), and Boy Scout Center (Kentucky).
Source: www.cloudceramics.com and Susie Haver, Cloud County CVB director