Fireclay founder Paul Burns (left) and CEO Eric Edelson.
Fireclay founder Paul Burns (left) and CEO Eric Edelson.

Fireclay Tile does business differently. The San Francisco-based company recently earned a B Corp certification, a coveted mark of sustainable business practices. Fireclay is also in total command of their products from materials sourcing to shipment, enabling them to maintain not only to environmentally-conscious production but customer service that goes above and beyond.

Founded by chief ceramicist Paul Burns, Fireclay has handmade glass and ceramic tile in California since 1986. “Whatever the tile industry does, we do the opposite,” explains Eric Edelson, Fireclay’s CEO. “We control every part of the value stream.”

At its center, Fireclay is green by only producing exactly what customers order. “We only make what people ask us to make, and that alone is very sustainable,” says Edelson. Beyond made-to-order products, Fireclay earned the B Corp certification by ensuring that the glass and ceramic used to make their products come from recycled materials. The ceramic clay body of Fireclay’s materials are 70% recycled. All of the glass is sourced by the company from waste including collected toilets, quarries, and tiles that didn’t come out perfectly. Fireclay also upcycles glass tubes from solar arrays and Cathode Ray Tubes which are discarded from old TVs and other electronics. A total of about 80% of products made and sold by Fireclay have recycled content.

Fireclay reduces the company’s environmental impact other ways, too. “All our gas emissions and electricity usage and shipping for all orders, vehicle use, and employee transportation is offset” says Edelson. Through sources like the Carbon Fund, purchasing offsets helped Fireclay achieve the necessary qualifications for B Corp certification. Additionally, Fireclay offers employees good benefits and ownership stake in the Company. The staff has expanded five-fold since Edelson joined the company in 2009 and grown in product lines, but without losing any ounce of production control or the handmade touch. The staff includes ceramists, designers, painters, and even an in-house photographer.

Fireclay’s newly introduced line— the Sakura Collection— is a prime example of the inspiring design work from the Company. “[Sakura] is a very beautiful, organic, kind of asian-inspired ode to Japanese design and has a natural feel,” says Edelson. “We’re excited about creating products that other people aren’t doing.” Painter Susan Redfield is behind the designs, of which there are 12 customizable baseline designs each with three different color options.

Fireclay is like no other tile company. Edelson explains, “we’re really trying to do things differently. When I looked at the tile industry I saw a lot a fundamental issues with the ways customers were treated. We’ve created a holistic experience and we’ll do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.”