Out of the Ashes-the Greenest of the Green is Born

An Interview with John Brooks, BRINC Building Products

Always a builder and construction person at heart, former Lumber Grader John Brooks spent two years of his “spare” time as a young, single dad remodeling his home in the small town of New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  John had full custody of his two children – 7 and 8 years old when he began.  He worked and parented by day, and he remodeled at night.

With permission from the mill he formerly worked at, John salvaged scrap lumber that didn’t pass inspection and would have been made into pallets.  He kiln-dried it and made it into unique, beautiful woodwork for his family’s home.  The evening he finished the final project of his remodel – grouting the tile on the kitchen floor, John’s home burnt to the ground.  It was a complete and total loss.

Under-insured and homeless, the now Founder and President of BRINC Building Products and his two children were lovingly and unconditionally embraced by their small town community.  The townspeople rallied to help furnish and move John’s family into a humble, two-bedroom home three doors down from John’s mother.

A New Beginning

John’s new home under construction

Never one to give up, John set out to start over – building a new home on their now empty lot.  In his then current job as a building products’ territory salesperson, John’s passion for healthy, energy-efficient building products (specifically Neopor insulation) grew.  Neopor GPS is a graphite polystyrene (GPS) rigid foam insulation that gives maximum efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability on construction projects.

Known also for being “thrifty,” John spent a lot of time studying how to make his new house thermally efficient.  He decided that if he was going to spend money, it was going to be on a home mortgage paying for quality, sustainable, healthy products – not giving it to the utility company.

The Problem:  Thermal Bridging

Mold and mildew in John’s home that led him to develop ThermalBuck

During this time, John began considering how he could stop air loss and avoid the thermal bridging he had grown accustomed to seeing around wood buck-mounted windows.  He was looking for a solution to the condensation, warping, mold, and energy loss that lead to higher utility bills.   Realizing there had to be a better way to install windows than with wood bucks, John experimented in his basement, and through trial and error, he developed a prototype for his now-premier product, ThermalBuck.

The Solution:  ThermalBuck

Thermal Buck is a high-performance mounting system for windows and doors for use with exterior insulation.  It structurally supports the window while thermally breaking the mounting point.  ThermalBuck is made up of a high density expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation with a waterproof coating that prevents compression of insulation and ensures an airtight and watertight building envelope.

ThermalBuck at Greenbuild Conference

ThermalBuck was launched at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in 2015 and was honored with the “Greenest of the Green” Energy Savings Product Award.

It was a long and arduous journey however, winding through two years of prototypes, testing, code compliance, task groups, patents, legal guidance, and manufacturing processes.  John sold his motorcycle to pay a patent lawyer.  He put his car up for sale to pay for code compliance testing.  He prayed.  He lost his job.  He was behind with his bills.  But John was also provided for in unexpected and miraculous ways that he can only attribute to God’s provision.  Through a chance meeting at a small diner where he was invited to join a group at lunch, an investor and business partner emerged.

Soon after, a manufacturing plant was built.  And then another product was developed – ThermalTight – a Neopor GPS semi-vapor permeable rigid insulation with a high-performance, self-gasketing weather resistant barrier that eliminates the “reverse shingle” issue common with panel systems that require taping on top of seams.

Building Envelope Solutions

Armed with a mission to provide simple, innovative, effective building envelope solutions using building science to create products that solve issues, BRINC Building Products began to thrive.  John spent his time going to trade shows across the country.  He created presentations and training events for builders and architects.  BRINC products were now in all 48 contiguous states and Alaska.  They were also in Canada.

Then in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.  It almost destroyed BRINC.  But John has been knocked down before and his dreams and passion and determination and faith have pulled him through and lifted him higher than he had ever imagined.  John continues to develop new and innovative products – many of which he hopes to launch soon but can’t speak about just yet – so stay tuned and keep your eye on BRINC!

Green Building Bites on Site:  Installation of ThermalBuck and ThermalTight on a Local Project

To learn more and see a construction project where ThermalBuck and ThermalTight products are being installed on a home in the Western Pennsylvania region, check out Green Building Alliance’s Green Building Bites on Site with Leslie Montgomery where you can hear directly from John, homeowner Brian Marra (owner of Un-Flood It) and construction foreman Ron Rimmold.

Bear Road Elementary School

While BRINC’s business is currently most focused on the residential market, they have done work in multi-family, schools, assisted living facilities, and some light commercial work.  Their business is about 50 percent new construction and 50 percent remodel for energy efficiency.

The Future of BRINC Building Products

ThermalBuck Install at Assisted Living Facility

John believes BRINC’s greatest opportunity is “to change the building environment to be healthier, more sustainable, and more energy efficient.”  He envisions a future being involved in the commercial building industry and developing more new products as the environment evolves and changes.

Giving Back

One important wish John has is to be able to give back.  Being very close to being homeless himself years ago, John dreams of building a dormitory-type facility for the homeless in his community one day.  It will be a safe and secure place, but also a place to be trained in a skilled labor or perhaps a healthcare field.  A place to learn how to handle finances.  A place for spiritual training.  A place to empower the less fortunate and underserved to create pride in themselves and their community and make it the thriving hometown John remembers as a child.

To learn more about BRINC Building Products, ThermalBuck, and ThermalTight, please visit:  brincbp.com.

In Western Pennsylvania, we are lucky to have a variety of green building products manufactured right here in our region, and Green Building Alliance supports the innovative spirit that harnesses our interwoven legacies in both manufacturing and sustainability.

 

BRINC AWARDS & RECOGNITION:

Greenbuild Conference “Greenest of the Green’ Energy Saving Product Award” – 2015

Builder Magazine “HIVE” Award for “Building Material Technology” – 2017

Professional Builder Magazine “Best of PCBC: Parade of Products” – 2017

 

BRINC RESOURCES/MEDIA:

https://thermalbuck.com/resources-2/thermalbuck-media-events/

https://thermalbuck.com/resources-2/news-events/

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