Our Story...



This is Our Story, Together.

Trusted. Dependable. Genuine. These are words often used to describe our products, and it’s true. However, these qualities are not the secret to our success; it’s our people. Those we employ, those who we serve, and our trusted industry partners. After all, our commitment to a future of sustainable building solutions for cities and neighborhoods across North America is possible only through their commitment to us and the diversity and skillsets they bring to our organization and culture.

This is our identity. This is our mission. This is our story, together.

“I had never felt so comfortable at a job interview.  Everyone was so welcoming. Three years later and it’s more than what I was hoping for. The company is great at cultivating a supportive environment. I have confidence in knowing we are working toward the same goal. Being a leader in your industry is appealing and our focus is being the best at what we do and to share our culture. That becomes very helpful in recruiting quality candidates.”

Diana Duquette

Human Resources Coordinator

Corporate – Johnson City, TN

3 1/2 Years

“My dad worked for the company and so General Shale has been a part of my life since I was a small child. They put food on the table then and are helping put food on the table now. I came to be an employee in late 2005. General Shale was looking for a general laborer, and I went to work doing that for about two years. It was at a plant revamp where I was asked if I would be interested in my apprenticeship as a mason. I was already interested, and so I went through four years of that into the recession. It was a bit nerve-wracking during that time, but General Shale was good to me. I would go another 13 years as a traveling mason with the company working at production sites for rebuilds and repairs. Then, about four years ago, I was called to the corporate office and was offered the opportunity to work as an Arriscraft masonry instructor for the company. I feel very fortunate doing what I do now, and one of my favorite things is attending masonry events and working with the apprentices and lay stone with the kids that are learning. It’s something that often goes unappreciated. We have a challenge with getting younger generations interested in masonry, but to me there’s something special about building with your hands. Even if it’s small, I want to share my passion for it while I can.

Brandon Collins

Masonry Instructor


18 Years

“I went to school to do something else but found myself working a part time job in brick distribution. But I have to tell you I was fascinated by brick. I thought it looked kind of glamourous!  There weren’t many women in the industry at the time so I would teach myself by listening to other salesmen. Two years later, the opportunity came for a sales position, and I got it. In the beginning I worked in architectural, commercial, and residential. It was like being “Superman” because I would go from wearing jeans, boots, and a hard hat to finding a place to change into high-heels and a suit showing up in an architect’s office or meeting with a million-dollar client. By the end of the day, I could be back in jeans and boots again – all in a day’s work! After 26 years in distribution, I landed my dream job as a sales manager for the manufacturer, which is now General Shale. My advice to young women coming into the industry is to know your business. Yes, you should carry yourself well and with respect, but I think a lot of it is knowing what you’re selling, believing in your product, and how to gauge your customer.”

Julie Holder

Area Sales Manager

Michigan Brick

30 Years

“I graduated with honors in school and joined the military as a mechanic. After completing my service, I tried a few different jobs and later began working as a maintenance technician. Now I work as a setting machine operator for General Shale, but when needed I still do maintenance on my machine. Brick, to me, kind of paves the way for everything so its great to be a part of that. Having worked for another company before, I have noticed General Shale invests in rebuilding and making things better, which makes my job easier and safer, and it actually allows me to finish earlier than I used to so I’m able to go home and be with my kids. I plan on learning every area of my plant. I want to teach my kids that paths lead into, different, directions and I don’t want them to ever be afraid of hard work that might keep them from doing what they want to do.

Maria Menchaca

Setting Machine Operator

Red River Brick – Mineral Wells, TX

1 Year

“I was offered a position while finishing up school, and things went well. Shortly after, I found myself in Rome, GA as a kiln supervisor. After three years, they approached me to transfer to North Carolina where I was promoted to assistant plant manager. Since then, I’ve been to our Pennsylvania plant, to the corporate office at Johnson City, and now here in Roanoke as plant manager. But I’ve enjoyed all of the places and experiences my wife and I have been able to explore since joining General Shale. If you want to progress [in production], you’ve got to be willing. And I enjoy the hands-on part of my job or ‘turning the wrenches’ as they say. That’s who I am. We’re going to get the job done one way or the other. Whether it’s doing those things or filling in time for one of my guys; I was told by people in positions I wanted to be in one day that is the way you compose yourself.”

Steven Higgins

Plant Manager

General Shale Brick – Roanoke, VA

10 Years

“I’ve worked since I was 16 in pretty much any job you can imagine. When I got into manufacturing world, it was first in accounting and then purchasing.  Afterward I became involved in machinery and parts, which opened up doors in ways I could not have imagined. When I formally went into production through scheduling, I came face-to-face with the dealings of running a plant and things like raw materials, sourcing, projections, recovery, and the equipment side. I love what I do and I like getting dirty. I like creating. That’s what draws me to stick with it. It’s always applying what you did yesterday to get you to tomorrow and do it better. When you look at brick-making, it is a super physical job that is demanding and not for the faint of heart. Yes we have technologies and advancements, but it’s still very demanding and physical. Whoever is in the brick manufacturing world — man or woman — you must have drive and be tenacious.

Candice Garcia

Assistant Plant Manager

Red River Brick – Mineral Wells, TX

5 Years

“This position became available when the person in the role before decided to change careers. I was loving my job in customer service at the time, but they thought I would be a good candidate for sales. And, actually, right then I was like ‘YES!’ It was something I had always considered but never made known and it became the perfect opportunity presented to me at the time personally. I love people and being in front of them. It can be challenging being the first woman in this role for Jet Stream and I was a bit unsure, but customers have been very receptive. It has worked out perfectly.”

Casey Brown

Outside Sales Representative

Jet Stream

10 Years

“I began as a dispatcher and have worked in customer services, accounting, transportation – all at this location and so I’ve done a bit of everything. When I started the company was family-oriented and it still is today. We have a great team here where everyone works together. We carry that over into our relationships with customers, which I really do enjoy. As you’re growing with the company you’re growing with the customers. There are those who visit with us regularly that know we are going to take the time to help them. And when you consider there’s other options for them not too far away, it’s great when they continue to come back and let you know it’s simply because we have what they need, ready and available.

Tammy Bartrum

Operations Manager

General Shale Brick – Manassas, VA

13 Years

“I love this career and I’ve been doing this a long time. It makes such a difference to work in an atmosphere where people feed your passion and encourage you to take initiative. But if something should have been done differently, you don’t simply find criticism but constructive feedback. The highlight of my story was after working my territory for a few years, our CEO and COO made plans to visit with me. They flew in, we had lunch, and that’s when they approached me about taking my current position. I thought, ‘I’ve lived in Texas my entire life and I would be moving away from my family, but I had such confidence in them and the company that there was no way I could turn it down.

Jerry Shaver

Director of Sales

Jet Stream

9 Years

“I was a welder in the coal mines early on in my career where I learned electrical work. By the time I was hired by General Shale as a welder, they needed an electrician. Soon after, I moved into the automation department building panels for the plant robots. The experience was invaluable to me. Before you know it I had a laptop and was programming equipment for plants across the country. I’ve seen ups and downs in my 20 years but General Shale takes care of you.”

Charles "Bubba" Cox

Robotics Technician

20 Years

“My goal was to have a true, authentic looking English countryside kitchen. I immediately knew I needed to have brick as the finishing touch on the space. General Shale from the beginning supported my creative vision and it’s why I love sharing and talking about this company with my audience.  I’m such a people person and quality of product isn’t the most important thing. There’s still another half to the product and it’s the people behind. Among all the companies I’ve worked with, this has been the most enjoyable.”

Tori Donahue

Interior Designer & Horticulturist

Pennsylvania | 6 Years

“A quote I often use in presentations states ‘If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life’. I believe that and I enjoy what I do tremendously. The expectations are there and you want to do the best job you can, but for a company that is now a multi-national business it still has a family atmosphere. You’re always able to find the support you need.”

Patrick Pullen

National Accounts Manager

12 Years


“It’s simple. It looks complicated, but once you learn it, it’s simple. I like working for General Shale because of the people and they pay well. They’re just all-around good guys. [Before I got into this position] I wanted to be a lead and continue to grow. I talked to my supervisor about it and the next thing you know it happened. I like what I do and I think they do too.”

Tyler Espinoza

Plant Lead, 2ND Shift

Spring City, TN Plant

9 Years

“I ended up moving to Roanoke to find a role with a stable schedule and work hours. [When researching General Shale] I just thought the diversity of everything was a really intriguing. The company has its own language. Even though I had a lot to learn quickly, Katie Craig took me under her wings and kept telling me ‘it will all click in your time.’ And it did! Even in a short time, I’ve recognized an authenticity to this industry. We are literally taking dirt from the earth and creating something special, and I think that has a lot to do with why we have people that work really hard but who are also great people. There are companies where the perception and expectations are not reality, but General Shale is different. These are people who know what it takes because they’ve been doing it for 20 years or more. It’s incredibly important.

Catherine Balsley

Office Administrator

Roanoke, VA Plant

1 1/2 Years

“One of my buddies worked here and said it was a good job and that I should try it out. After a while, I wanted to learn more to move up and I’ve been training in other departments. I went to school to try to move up in life and you’ve got to work hard. General Shale supports hard work.  After all, what we make provides a place for people to live and go to school. It has to be right.

Josh Lamb

Packaging Lead – Weekends

Spring City, TN Plant

3  Years

“I was impressed with General Shale when I met them during a recruiting event, and I fell in love with the industry once I learned the design aspect of it. It can be challenging as a female in the industry, but the support system is unique at General Shale. Leadership and guidance are always available when needed, but you have to be self driven. It’s reassuring to look around and relate to individuals who have been with the company for over 20 years, while managing family, marriage, and the demands of daily life. That says a lot to me.”

Torie Kelly

Outside Sales Representative

Tri-Cities, TN

3  1/2 Years

“In the place I worked before, it was in a big city of hustle and bustle. Not everyone was warm or overly friendly. But when I came to General Shale, everyone took me in like family. The guys I work with now I have worked with for almost 20 years. It makes my job easier, too, because we know each other professionally and what we can do and expect. My biggest takeaway about the company is everyone here is very smart.  We don’t have people who do half a job. The people really seem to care about what they do and how they want to keep the company successful. I really appreciate that and it backs up the fact that we are the leader in what we do.”

Mike Downing

Network Support Assistant
Corporate – Johnson City, TN
18 years

“When this plant opened, they needed a shipping supervisor.  A friend working here encouraged me to apply and I thought, ‘I don’t know anything about loading trucks and forklifts but I’m a hard worker’ and I’ve been doing it ever since. I enjoy it. It’s challenging but I’m up for it. One thing that is so interesting to me is General Shale’s upper management is interested in what I do and the daily successes we have at our plant. They make sure they’ve acknowledged a job well done and that’s nice.

Kelly Harbaugh

Shipping Supervisor

Terre Haute, IN Plant

14 Years

“I like to switch up designs. Without brick a house can look two-dimensional. General Shale has a lot of variation in product that makes it helpful when designing our homes. I know General Shale is now the biggest brick manufacturer but it doesn’t feel like it. They are still very relational and easy to communicate with. Whether it’s a delivery or sales question, if there’s an issue, General Shale listens.”

Kyle Hicks

Hicks Construction Co.

Residential Custom & Spec

Home Builder

“Years ago you only had three to five choices of brick. I am amazed at how General Shale’s growth has enabled them to use their resources to provide for the needs of the customer. The building industry is complex, and we have more houses being built now than ever. General Shale listens to our needs, understands our concerns, and makes changes to help our business.”

Tim Hicks

Hicks Construction Co.

Residential Custom & Spec

Home Builder

General Shale is helping to bring us into the future. On the commercial side, it’s incredible to be part of such a lengthy process that requires so many people to work together. To nurture that process and see it in the end – that’s incredible! It’s nice to remind people that this is an enduring industry and product that has a very rich history.”

Rick Goss

Architectural Sales Manager


40 Years

“I’ve watched General Shale grow through the years…and no other manufacturer has offered the resources like they have in the market. Their products and people have always been number one in my book. And we’re all family [in this industry]. There are times I’ve worked with competitors to get them things they need if its right for a brick customer. It is a very satisfying feeling when you help a customer see a project through.”

Clint Hale

District Sales Manager


25 Years

“I had a personal connection to General Shale through my family and I had always heard positive things about the company. When I came in, I instantly loved it. The culture is wonderful and it’s great to see the company growing through acquisitions. Even though we’re the largest now, it still has a small-company feel. Leadership makes a point to remember your name and congratulate the team when we have a record day.”

Shannon Hazelwood

Inside Sales Representative

Roanoke, VA Plant

5 1/2 Years

“As a young professional I was looking for an opportunity to work in an environment where I could grow and take steps up. I wanted to find a place where I could have influence and make an impact. General Shale has offered me a platform to voice my ideas and be creative. The company recognizes that what you are doing makes a difference, and they see value in the position you hold. And for me personally, it’s very satisfying to work for an organization that supports trade-skills having grown up in that environment.”

Nick Forsberg

Manager of Digital Marketing & Sustainability

Corporate – Johnson City, TN

2 Years

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