Just because your last name is Belden doesn’t mean you will one day work for The Belden Brick Co.
“There are many, many Beldens,” said Robert T. Belden, a fifth-generation descendant of Henry S. Belden, who began Belden Brick with four associates in 1885. “So no Belden, including my children, ever really think, ‘Well, I’m going to be working for Belden Brick’ because there just aren’t enough positions. Everybody starts in whatever profession they are in. Almost no Belden begins their working career with Belden Brick.”
Belden, a 1992 Central Catholic High School graduate, spent nearly a decade outside Stark County before the family business brought him home.
After graduating in 1996 from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in finance, Belden left for Jamaica for two years with the Peace Corps, where he volunteered with the Corps’ small-business development unit.
“Notre Dame promoted a lot of community service, and I was interested in seeing the world,” he said.
It was in Jamaica where he met his wife, Ashley, a Texas native who also was volunteering with the Corps. The couple first lived in Wooster, where Belden worked as an operations manager for International Paper, a pulp and paper company. They relocated to Cincinnati when he became International Paper’s controller, but their stay in Cincinnati lasted only a year.
Belden’s father, Robert F. Belden, who was then president of Belden Brick, and his cousin, Bill Belden, then the company’s chief executive officer, wanted to bring in the next generation of family leaders to learn the company’s operations.
Robert T. Belden became the assistant vice president of production in 2002, then vice president of operations in 2005.
“The company hadn’t had a Belden in the production part of the business since my grandfather,” said Belden, who is one of four from the fifth generation to work at the company. “Most of the Beldens had worked in sales and management.”
Belden spends much of his time in Sugarcreek in Tuscarawas County where he oversees the company’s six plants. The company, which is the sixth largest manufacturer and the largest family-owned brick company in the United States, also operates an oil and gas division, a mining department and has a subsidiary material handling equipment company, called Tubar Eureka.
He’s also part of the leadership team overseeing a $20 million investment into the company’s Plant B, which was originally built in 1968, as well as investments into different types of brick such as thin brick and glazed brick, which are becoming more popular. He expects the upgrades to be finished this year.
Outside of work, Belden continues the family’s long tradition of community service. He recently became chairman of the YMCA Board of Central Stark County, the same position that his great-grandfather held in 1871.
Belden also has served on the Board of Trustees of the CYC Community Recreation Center (now the Meyers Lake YMCA) and on Central Catholic’s Board of Directors. He also volunteers as the athletic director of St. Michael’s School, where his son, Bobby, and daughter, Lily, are students. His oldest son, Charlie, is a freshman at Central Catholic High School.
Here are some of Belden’s Stark County favorites:
Most unique product:
“Because Canton is the home of professional football, and did not invent gridiron football, Timken’s tapered roller bearing must be the most unique product to ever emerge from Stark County,” he said.
Local CEO or business owner you admire:
“I am blessed to work with my father, Robert F. Belden, CEO of The Belden Brick Company, whom I consider a great leader,” Belden said. “I also admire Ed Roth, CEO of Aultman Health Foundation, who is an unwavering supporter of our community as well as his alma mater, Central Catholic High School.”
Favorite place to take the kids:
The trails at Sippo Lake Park in Perry Township: “It’s near our house, and our dog (Lucy) loves it, too,” said Belden, a former marathon runner. “… When you look at the park system we have in Stark County, there’s a lot of hidden gems that people don’t know about unless they seek them out.”
Favorite lunch spot:
Taggart’s Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant and Woody’s Root Beer Stand: “My siblings all live out of town and when they come home, those are the places (they want to go) because there’s such a nostalgia for those kind of places,” he said.
Favorite local coffee shop:
Johnnie’s Bakery of Canton (for the donuts): “One of the neat things of growing up in a town for generations is that you can continue traditions that your parents began or your grandparents began,” said Belden, who often picks up some chocolate/chocolate donuts on the weekends. “My dad used to always get Johnnie’s donuts.”
Favorite place to see live music:
Umstattd Performing Arts Hall: “I like to be in a symphony,” Belden said. “It’s different than, ‘Hey, Alexa, play Brahms or play Mozart.’ When you are in a symphony, it has a different impact.”
Favorite local volunteer opportunity:
Central Stark County YMCA and St. Michael School (where he serves as the athletic director): “The YMCA plays a vital role in serving so many members of our community in so many different ways,” he said. “At St. Michael’s, I enjoy helping our children experience the joy and challenge of athletic competition on teams they’ll remember for a lifetime.”
Favorite indoor activity:
Swimming, basketball and working out at the YMCA with my children.
Favorite entertainment spot:
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
Favorite workout spot:
Meyers Lake YMCA and Paul & Carol David YMCA in Jackson Township
Favorite local event:
Central Catholic High School sporting events
Favorite theater performance group:
Players Guild Theatre
Favorite place to shop local for gifts:
Central Catholic High School bookstore
Favorite local spot to grab a drink:
Canton Brewing Company
Favorite local theater: