Supplying Brick for Ohio’s Finest Structures Since 1885
When John Murbach, at the young age of 16, left his native country of Switzerland for the promise of a new life in the United States, he was not alone. Between 1856 and 1920 thousands immigrated to the northern shores of Lake Erie, including many of Murbach’s fellow Swiss that settled in the Lorain County area of Ohio.
John Murbach’s first job was making harness for horses. The harness shop owner told young John that his future was to own his own business. When the young Murbach asked, “What kind of business could I do and be successful?” the shopkeeper replied, “You should own a jewelry store.”
Murbach replied in almost disbelief, “Why, I know nothing of jewelry, why a jewelry store?” The shopkeeper in a fatherly manner replied, “You are from Switzerland, people will expect that you would know about jewelry and clocks.”
The Murbach Jewelry Store first opened in Elyria, Ohio. After a brief period, John Murbach moved his business to Amherst, Ohio where there was a large contingency of Swiss living and working cutting stone at the largest sandstone quarry in the world. The Amherst store operated for eight years. While learning his trade, John Murbach found that the city of Amherst was too dependent on just one industry. As the Amherst Sandstone Quarry went so did the Murbach Jewerly business.
Murbach then moved his jewelry store back to Elyria. He purchased a property at the corner of Broad Street and Cheapside (now Middle Ave.) in downtown Elyria. Shortly after opening his new store, John was approached by a local coal company to rent out a space in front of his store for the coal dealer to take coal orders. In the 1880’s, it was customary for customers purchasing coal to heat their homes to come to town to place their orders for delivery.
The proposition was a good opportunity for Murbach as the extra rent payment would help to pay the cost of the overhead of his new business in Elyria. John Murbach observed this coal dealer do his business and thought, “this certainly looks like an easy and profitable business compared to selling jewelry.”
1885 – A Company is Born
When one of partners died, Murbach bought out half interest in the coal business and then in 1885 John Murbach purchased the company and renamed it The Murbach Coal and Supply Company.
Fireproof building materials were added to the product line (featuring brick) to have something for the drivers to do in the summer as the peak seasons for the coal business was in the winter months.
120+ Years of Selling Brick
A company with any amount of longevity, and particularly a successful family-owned business has survived as a result of leadership with vision, commitment, knowledge, sacrifice, hard work, some luck and above all being able to adapt to the market forces. The business of selling brick for 120 years, like any other, has seen wars, financial panic, shortages of capital, and certainly market changes.
In March of 2005, Murbach, Inc. and The Brickyard merged with Consumeracq, Inc. The Brickyard has now joined forces with the other Consumeracq companies of Consumers Builder’s Supplies, Hull Builder’s Supplies, Grafton Ready Mix and Fraley Trucking. Like Murbach’s, Consumeracq has been a family affair for over 100 years. Jeff Riddell is president and CEO of Consumeracq.
In 2008, operations and showroom were relocated to Cosumeracq’s headquarters and home of Consumers Builder’s Supplies in Sheffield Township.
Jillian Riddell now serves as President and CEO of The Brickyard.
Both the Murbach family and the Riddell family also realizes that growth required more than a firm family commitment. It took the skill, knowledge, dedication and hard work of countless others who, together, create a reputation for excellence for The Brickyard.