A growing number of brick manufacturers are making bricks out of their own materials and cutting them into bricks, a process that’s helping to boost the local economy.
But there’s one major difference: Many brick factories have been built in Canada, where the laws that govern the supply chain for brick manufacturing have been relaxed.
A recent study from the University of Toronto and the University, London, found that Canadian brickmakers are able to do what their Canadian counterparts can’t.
And in some ways, they’re being rewarded for doing it.
“Bricks are very cheap to produce, so they’re a very attractive product,” says Michael Hirst, professor emeritus at the University and director of the Canadian Brick Museum in Toronto.
“People buy them because they look good and they look cool, and they’re cheap.”
Brickmakers also make a variety of other products, including building materials, metal and wood, and some specialty items, like glass and ceramics.
The demand for these materials has been growing in Canada as manufacturing activity has stagnated.
Canada’s brickmaking industry has grown by about 35 per cent since 2000, according to the Canadian Manufacturers Association, which represents Canada’s leading brick manufacturers.
A survey of brickmakers conducted last year by the BMO Group found that brickmakers across the country were making an average of $30,000 a year in profits, or about $1.4 million annually.
Hirst says that’s up from $7,000 annually in 2006.
“That’s huge,” says Hirst.
“When I look at what other industries are doing, we’ve lost out on about $6.7 billion in GDP and jobs in manufacturing in Canada.”
But the demand for bricks has been largely driven by a growing number, particularly in the United States, where they’ve been popular for their affordable prices and ability to be made in smaller batches.
“The demand has been so intense that you have these very large companies, which is really unheard of,” says Andrew McIlroy, a professor at the College of Arts and Sciences at the Canadian Institute of Technology.
McIlry and Hirst have teamed up to make a new study that examines how Canadian brick makers are responding to the supply crunch.
They found that Canada’s bricks have also been increasingly attractive for consumers.
“They’re very cheap,” McIloy says.
“You can have these beautiful, beautiful, and unique pieces for the price of $100, so it’s very appealing.”
And that appeal has helped bricks become increasingly popular in countries like the United Kingdom, which was the first to legalize bricks in 2007.
Brick sales rose in the U.K. by over 40 per cent from 2008 to 2013.
But it didn’t go to the level seen in Canada.
That changed in the late 1990s, when the then-prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, enacted laws that allowed brick makers to import their bricks, as well as making them in smaller quantities.
In 2008, the U