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Jack A. Berridge: Innovative products, equipment, processes and business practices

2016 Metal Construction Hall of Fame


Jack A. Berridge, chairman of the board at Houston-based Berridge Manufacturing Co., has influenced the metal construction industry through his creative development of metal building products and equipment and passion for the business for more than 50 years.

Early Days

After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering at California State Polytechnic College in 1959, Berridge began his career as an engineer developing products at Kaiser Aluminum in California, where he developed a patented nail slot structure for metal panels that allowed the panel to expand and contract without damaging the panel or structure.

Berridge contributed to the development of several companies' products before founding his own company including Riverside, Calif.-based Hunter Engineer, a division of Amax Aluminum, where he received a patent for an attachment clip for metal shingles in 1968.

Berridge innovated a manufacturing process at Houston-based Perma-Clad Products during the 1960s in which textured, pre-cut, blank materials were delivered to fabricators, who completed the fabrication process.

"I didn't start Berridge Manufacturing Co. for the money, I liked the challenge of working with sheet metal and I saw the need and tremendous potential in the architectural market for quality metal building products. This has been a great journey and I am excited to think about the future of Berridge Manufacturing and the possibilities that exist going forward." - Jack Berridge, chairman of the board at Berridge Manufacturing Co.

"When I left Perma-Clad Products, the acting president of Architectural Engineering Products in San Diego, called me in Houston to return as president, which I did with the stipulation that I would only stay for six months and return to Houston as the company's sales representative on a commission," Berridge says. "As a sales representative, there would be no stock option. I accepted this position and I did return to Houston. Perma-Clad Products went out of business with no return on their investment."

Berridge developed many products and designed the Sweets brand catalog of metal building products at Architectural Engineering Products, which later became AEP-Span. "I increased Architectural Engineering Products' sales and improved their production," Berridge says. "As a result, they were able to sell the business at a price they were satisfied with."

Beginning Business

Berridge decided to strike out on his own. He and his wife, Carol, founded Berridge Manufacturing Co. in Houston in 1970. Berridge helped architects and owners design project applications, sold and installed products, and, as sales grew, added new products and employees. "I then founded a company whose name could not be copied: Berridge Manufacturing," Berridge says. "I didn't start Berridge Manufacturing for the money, I liked the challenge of working with sheet metal and I saw the need and tremendous potential in the architectural market for quality metal building products."

Berridge continued adding products, employees, equipment and customers through the 1970s. Today, Berridge Manufacturing has more than 200 employees at 12 manufacturing and distribution facilities throughout the U.S. and distributes more than 30 products nationally and internationally.

Kim Berridge Gillum, Berridge's daughter, is customer relations manager at Berridge Manufacturing. "The first 10 years of Berridge Manufacturing were a lot of hard work with few employees to help," she says. "There were only a few machines. Most products were handcrafted on press brakes and leaf brakes in the warehouse. We didn't form anything on-site in those days. Everything was handmade, packaged and shipped to the job site for installation."

Carol Berridge worked as a secretary at the new company. "It was a mom-and-pop operation," Berridge Gillum says. "My father had a few employees, and he was installing the products in the early days. He'd make [the metal roof panels] and then he would put them on himself with the help of a couple employees."

Paint Lines

J. Grant Gillum, Berridge's son-in-law and executive vice president of sales, marketing and development at Berridge Manufacturing, says during the 1970s and 1980s, there were few coil coating paint lines for steel. "When business got busy, those paint lines filled up and the smaller customers like Berridge Manufacturing kind of suffered as lead times increased," he says.

Berridge led his company to install a 42-inch continuous coil coating paint line in Houston in 1981, which reduced product delivery times and expanded the company's capabilities to fill more custom, smaller orders. A 48-inch coil coating line was added to the company's facility in San Antonio in 1995.

Berridge says the paint lines gave his company much greater control of the entire process. "Before that, we didn't have any control when the coaters would paint or when it would be shipped," he says. "So we controlled all that. We started buying directly from the steel mills and paint suppliers."

Berridge Gillum says another benefit to the paint lines was the ability to produce custom colors and smaller batches, which the company did for buildings and casinos in Las Vegas. "Early on, Berridge was one of few suppliers who could do small quantities of custom colors, and architects took advantage of Berridge's capabilities," she says.

Roll Formers

Berridge's portable roll formers were another significant development during the 1980s. He introduced the Model SS-14 portable roll former, the first of the company's many roll formers, to roll form the panel portion of Berridge Manufacturing's Tee-Panel system in 1984. It was the first-known compact roll former with the ability to easily form and curve metal roof panels on job sites. It formed the panels vertically for ease of handling and curving. It enabled users to roll form continuous length, straight and curved architectural metal roof panels. This had a significant impact on the use of curved architectural panels because it made them more affordable than factory-produced panels and easier to produce on job sites.

Gillum says when Berridge started, he made all of his company's products until he had the vision for the roll former. He started selling roll formers, coil and accessories to contractors. "He grew his business very rapidly with a program selling roll formers to contractors and supplying them with the coil materials," Gillum says.

Berridge introduced the Berridge Licensee Program in 1993, which expanded the company's influence on the industry by making roll former owners licensed manufacturers of Berridge Manufacturing's profiles.

Seal Patents

Berridge received a patent for a vinyl weather seal for the Tee-Panel System in 1983, the first of two patents issued to Berridge for vinyl weather seals used in his company's panel systems. Berridge received the second patent for a moisture-resistant seam assembly for Berridge Manufacturing's Zee-Lock panel system in 1992.

Enduring Legacy

Gillum says Berridge designed or inspired many of the products available throughout the industry today. "[Berridge] is a pioneer in our industry," he says. "His vision, original ideas, innovation, product designs and patents have transformed the industry by giving architects the products they needed at the right time to significantly enhance the aesthetics of their building designs."

Berridge continues overseeing and influencing the company he built and the industry he impacted throughout his career. "This has been a great journey and I am excited to think about the future of Berridge Manufacturing and the possibilities that exist going forward," Berridge says.