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Triangle Brick, located in Durham, North Carolina, with roots dating back to 1959, is one of the most highly automated brick manufacturers in the country and has plants in Wadesboro and Moncure, North Carolina and Clay County, Texas. Howard Brown, CEO of Triangle Brick said, “We utilize automation and technology to transform every step of the brick manufacturing process—from mining to manufacturing to distribution and service.” In addition, their plants feature some of the world’s highest capacity industrial robots for their entire process, from end to end.

The Challenge

With a maniacal focus on innovation, continuous improvement, efficiency and sustainability, Brown wanted to take the company’s safety performance to the next level as well and focus on its safety culture. “We weren’t satisfied with being second best in any part of our business, so we started by recognizing that we, as leaders, have to change the way we think with regards to safety.
NCMEP Partner IES has been a great asset to us. They came in, talked to our employees, looked objectively at our program and made fact-based recommendations to help us improve. I would recommend them to any organization looking to update their safety program.
— Howard Brown, CEO

MEP's Role

The first step was to contact NC State’s Industry Expansion Solutions (IES), the administrator for the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership and part of the MEP National Network™. Brown, an NC State graduate himself, knew of the organization’s environmental, health and safety services and capabilities.

IES got to work and performed a safety assessment on each of the company’s manufacturing sites, providing a gap analysis on what was working and what areas needed improvement. Additionally, some employees participated in interviews with IES to discuss safety challenges and offer their own ideas for improvement. The employee engagement aspect of the safety improvement program was very successful.

“The data from the gap analysis and feedback from our employees left no question about where work was needed and became the basis for our safety program improvement plan,” said Brown. In addition, IES helped craft a list of action items to work on. Brown, the CFO, the head of manufacturing and the head of each manufacturing plant met weekly for over a year to check progress, make necessary adjustments and ensure work efforts were delivering the intended results.

In the process, Triangle Brick has learned that these safety investments have paid for themselves, time and again over the past few years with fewer recordable incidents. “And most importantly,” Brown said, “The program is effective because everyone in the company—the CEO, the CFO, plant managers, supervisors and employees—now takes a personal interest in our safety culture and accident prevention. The strong expression of employee ownership of the updated program is tremendous and it shows.”


Created October 28, 2020, Updated July 12, 2021