Startup firm plans new brick production plant in Waukesha County

Company will make residential and commercial facing bricks from concrete in multiple colors, shapes and sizes.

An investment group is planning to develop a new concrete brick factory in Waukesha County, where it could begin producing bricks later this year.

Frontier Brick LLC, a new startup company that will make the bricks, has been certified for $1 million in investor tax credits by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. The company is working to raise about $6.3 million from investors, who will be able to receive a 25-percent tax credit on the amount they invest in the new company for the first $4 million raised.

When the approximate 20,000-square-foot facility is fully operational, it will produce as many as 50 million bricks per year and employ about 15 workers, according to David Franke, a Milwaukee business developer with Venture Accelerator of Wisconsin, a Milwaukee-based firm that is assisting Frontier Brick raise capital and establish its operations. Frontier Brick was founded and is owned by to Milwaukee-area business executives who wish to remain anonymous now, Franke said.

Franke declined to give the location where Frontier Brick hopes to build its facility.

Traditional bricks are made from clay and are generally baked at temperatures between 900 and 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The bricks that Frontier Brick plans to make will not require any baking and will be able to set at air temperatures above freezing.

“Our brick will be priced less than regular bricks,” Franke said. “There will be a special formulation (to the concrete). To a certain extent, it can be customized to color, size of brick and some of the technical features like absorbance rates.”

Frontier Bricks’ products will be used as facing bricks in commercial and residential real estate projects, Franke said. Because the bricks can be customized, Frontier Brick believes it will be able to replicate some styles of brick such as Cream City or Chicago Pink that are no longer available.

Frontier Bricks is now only able to produce samples of its bricks. Part of the financing the company is seeking would pay for specialized machinery that would extrude bricks from concrete.

“The process is revolutionary,” Franke said. “No one really has the ability to extrude concrete bricks now.”

The company is now pre-selling some of its production space to raise capital. It is also showing product samples to distributors, highlighting the cost savings and customized designs the company can produce. Most of the cost savings come from shipping, because almost all of the bricks made in the United States are produced in southern states.

“Shipping is about a third of the cost of bringing a brick in – it’s quite significant,” Franke said.

Frontier Brick hopes to open additional production facilities around the country once its Waukesha County location is operational so that it can maintain its low-cost structure in other markets, he said.

“We see multiple plants across the U.S. – we have to locate in certain geographies across the U.S. to avoid huge shipping costs,” Franke said. “Long term, the plan is to go public or be acquired.”

If it opens later this year, Frontier Bricks will be only the second brick company to begin operations in the Milwaukee area in more than 50 years. In late 2009, California-based CalStar Products opened a brick facility in a 63,000-square-foot facility in Caledonia.

CalStar’s bricks are made from fly ash generated from the nearby We Energies coal power plant. Like Revolution Bricks, CalStar envisions opening multiple production facilities around the country.

“We expect to build additional plants down the Mississippi Valley and East Coast over the next couple years,” said Thomas Pounds, CalStar’s chief executive officer. “We will get this plant launched and running toward capacity first.”


Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display