Namoi Valley Bricks and its unique coal fired down-draft kilns were recently featured in Channel 7’s Better Homes and Garden’s television series when Australia’s largest agricultural equipment field day event, AgQuip, came to Gunnedah, in NE NSW. Namoi Valley Bricks is one of the nine brick manufacturer brand names that form the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF), financially supporting bricklaying apprenticeships in Australia.
Mike Broekman, Managing Director of Namoi Valley Bricks, is the fifth generation of Broekman’s with brick making experience with the last 58 years of manufacturing by the family having been at Gunnedah. The brick making process is exactly the same as the one used by Mike’s forebears, using unique coal fired down draft kilns. His great, great grandfather first started making bricks back in Holland. “Brick making is in our blood and our experience ensures our customers have confidence in our products, he says.”
Mike told the Namoi Valley Independent how he came to get national exposure through putting his name forward through the Council. The segment that went to air showed Jason [Hodges] of Better Homes and Gardens having a detailed look at the unique production process and kiln and talking to some of the guys.
“Jason, being a landscaper bricklayer, was very interested in the furnace and the way it’s built and the type of bricklaying that’s involved in building a furnace.” Apparently Jason had been there before as a youngster when his father, whose still a well-known bricklayer in Sydney, would always check out brickworks on family trips, trying to get a tour.
The NV Independent reported that the Brickworks put their name down for consideration when Gunnedah Shire Council approached the Gunnedah and District Chamber of Commerce about the opportunity. Mike Broekman was pleased to get involved to promote bricks and “the way we make bricks, because we are proud of what we do and our history.”
“We’ve put a story out there that shows Gunnedah as a place of interest.… highlighting what it’s like to work in one of the businesses in a rural town. But it’s not just recognition for the business (that we were thinking of) it’s recognition for the team. It’s the team that makes the production, keeps the business afloat.
Without the people that work within it, and the strengths they bring to the company, we wouldn’t be here, so doing this thing (segment) on Better Homes and Gardens was to show that recognition for the guys that worked for us in the past, the ones that work for us now and the ones that work for us in the future.”
ABBTF Regional Manager