As a media organization editor in the distribution sector and an advocate for the industry, this is the type of blog I hoped to never have to write but felt compelled to.
On Jan. 5, Reading, Pennsylvania-based interior specialty building materials distributor C.H. Briggs announced that it will wind down operations over the next several months and close the business.
The company — one of the largest distributors of DuPont products on the East Coast — said the decision to close was made after exhaustive efforts to restructure its relationship with its primary supplier were unsuccessful.
The closure impacts 130 C.H. Briggs employees across its five locations: Reading, Pennsylvania; Charlotte, North Carolina; Norcross, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; and Lansdale, Pennsylvania. A post on the Pennslyvania Department of Labor & Industry’s website confirmed that 104 of those jobs are from the Reading facility.
The company said all employees will receive a severance and benefits package and that a small team of employees will remain in place through March 31 of this year to finalize operational details of the closure.
Company CEO and Chairwoman Julia Klein, who has been with C.H. Briggs Company since 1989, provided the following statement in a company news release:
“To say we are sad and disappointed would be an understatement. Changes in the supply chains we depended on mean we can no longer provide the quality of products and customer service that was the hallmark of our business. We made every attempt to avoid this outcome. Our efforts were exhaustive, but we were left with no other option but to wind down our operations.
“We recognize how painful this decision is for our Co-Workers, which is why we worked so hard to avoid it. We have a talented team, and we are doing all we can to help them be successful in the next phase of their careers. We have built a strong culture over three generations, and we are deeply grateful to our Co-Workers, customers, and suppliers for more than a half-century of empowering, elevating, and enriching the lives of the communities we serve.
“C.H. Briggs is more than just a distributor of specialty building materials. Our work has always been about people and community – creating exceptional spaces where we can all live, work, learn, play, and heal. Our hope is that those spaces, and the people who design and build them, will be our legacy.”
The company said customers with product and order inquiries are asked to call C.H. Briggs Customer Care at 1-800-355-1000.
C.H. Briggs was started in 1967 by Harry and Georgeanna Briggs, and Klein represents its third generation of family ownership. Serving the U.S. Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, the company distributes products under brands that include Corian Solid Surface, Corian Quartz, Corian Endura, Kohler, Alyn and Rev-A-Shelf. The company’s primary customers include manufacturers, architects and designers of specialty building products. Under Klein’s leadership, C.H. Briggs has integrated six acquisitions.
C.H. Briggs was recently featured in a season 2 episode of the We Supply America docuseries — made after UnleashWD Founder Dirk Beveridge’s cross-country RV tour of independent distributors. That episode can be viewed here. It took an intimate look at the company’s workforce, which carries the motto of “The faces behind the spaces.”
In sharing this blog and news with our MDM audience, I’m hoping that fellow distributors or manufacturers near C.H. Briggs’ locations can find a place for the company’s staff. Given the major need for experienced labor in distribution, I’m sure this group can provide it.
In a Friday morning LinkedIn post, Beveridge wrote the following:
Yesterday I wrote about the good and noble work of independent family-owned distribution businesses. Late last night, I was reminded that bad things sometimes happen to good people.
A statement landed in my email that C.H. Briggs Company, after more than 55 years, announced that it would be winding down operations in the coming months and closing the business.
My heart goes out to all 130 co-workers.
I had the fantastic good fortune to stop at C.H. Briggs in both season one and season two of the We Supply America tour. My respect for the organization, its leadership, and the people of C.H. Briggs is so high that C.H. Briggs was one of our eight featured distributors this past summer and featured in a We Supply America film.
The time I spent with these individuals was really special.
This morning I reflected on:
- The pride they had in their work.
- The bond between them.
- The belief in the deeper purpose of their work.
- The deep commitment everyone had to “the finest architects, fabricators, and retailers” customers they served.
- The fun we had eating tacos and ice creme together.
- The family that is C.H. Briggs.
But damn it, sometimes bad things happen to good people.
As CEO and Chairwoman Julia Briggs wrote in her email last night, “There will be time later to analyze how Wall Street and Main Street might co-exist…”.
But for now, as Julia also told me, at present, they have turned into a job placement machine.
Nobleness even through the most challenging of times.
To those seeking great talent, please reach out to C.H. Briggs.
Mike Marks, Founder of Indian River Consulting Group, echoed that sentiment in a LinkedIn post on Thursday afternoon:
In February 2022, C.H. Briggs posted the following company overview video: