Happy Birthday to us! It's not every day that a company makes it long enough to see 100 years and survive in this type of manufacturing business. Burley started back in 1923 making mostly utilitarian products for homes such as jugs and crocks for fermentation and storage. Potteries back then were producing products designed with function for their American consumers, it wasn't until the late 1800's / early 1900's that pottery being made in the Zanesville area changed from utilitarian to more "art pottery". This term is applied to pottery that is created in the era, but there is no specific style, technique, or method of production that characterizes art pottery.
Pottery became more art & style than purely functional alone. The rich clay deposits in this area gave rise to so many different pottery companies, each with their own unique style of products and glazes. The pottery community, both local and nation wide knows these names very well; Robinson Ransbottom, McCoy, Friendship, Roseville, Zanesville, Brush, Hull, and more. Down here in Roseville, our friends, our families, and our neighbors have grown up with, and most likely worked at one of these factories themselves. The community here treasures the potteries of old and the unique styles they gave to us and this country.
At the height of the pottery industry in Southeastern Ohio there were 30+ different companies producing handmade clay products, Roseville/Crooksville alone had 13, most notably being McCoy and Ransbottom. Through the years one by one, every pottery factory closed its doors, most due to fires, and some couldn't adapt and change with the markets when consumer trends or needs changed. The skill of handmade pottery was slowly disappearing with every closure. People who managed the kilns, processed the materials and created every part in the pottery process were retiring or transferring to other potteries still open, Burley being one of them.
Burley started out on Maysville Pike in South Zanesville, OH (O.K. Coal building currently) in just a little building with a small line of products. As time went on, potteries closed down and trends changed, but Burley survived and started to thrive. We studied the markets and trends, collaborated with amazing artisans to develop new products for our consumers, and grew as a big name in pottery. In the 90's Burley started out growing their small production facility on Maysville Pike and started looking for the perfect upgraded location to move.
We found the perfect place in Roseville, the old Nelson McCoy plant! The building remained in use up until 1990 when the tenants at the time packed up in the middle of the night, left the factory abandoned, and disappeared into the night. The building sat idle for years, everything left in place from that night; the clay carts still filled with clay for the next day's production, product molds scattered everywhere, and pallets of products just collecting dust.
Burley bought the building in 1998 and started work right away to clean this factory up and get it into working condition. The project took 3 years of hard work, 440 dump truck loads of trash, and over 3000 windows needed replaced. It was a long 3 years of fixing machines, moving things around to get optimized and organized but the end result gave us a fresh start in a new building to grow.
We continue to grow even today in this building, adapting to new technologies, tweaking the way things have been done to stream line the processes we need, and upgrading spaces to give more room and functionality. Burley continues to expand our product line for customers across the country looking for quality American made garden decor and planters. Consumers are actively looking for products made here in the United States rather than spending their money on products made overseas. They see the craftsmanship of American Made products and they want to support businesses who carry on those forgotten trades.
Burley will proudly continue to provide "mom n' pop" garden centers and greenhouses with handmade clay birdbaths and planters around the country for as long as we can.