In 1921 Henry F. "Heinie" Olson went to work as a salesman for Twin City Brick Company, a brick manufacturer on the west bank of the Mississippi River just north of St. Paul’s High Bridge near Lilydale, Minnesota. The interest in brick-making boomed after a number of local villages and cities, constructed primarily of wood, burned during catastrophic fires during the late 1800s. The Twin Cities Brick Company supplied bricks for numerous buildings around the Twin Cities, including the St. Paul Hotel.
Workers quarried Decorah shale from the Mississippi River bluffs and brought them down steep hillsides to be processed and fired into bricks. Visitors to the Lilydale—Harriet Island Regional Park in St. Paul can still see ruins of a Twin Cities Brick Company kiln at the base of the bluff as well as several quarries higher on the hill.
In 1947 Heinie’s son, Bill Olson, returned from his duty as a Naval Aviator in World War II and went to work for Twin City Brick – also as a salesman. Two generations of service to the company opened the door to Bill’s sons, Scott, Gary and Greg who in the 1960s worked various jobs at the company’s brickyards in Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
By 1972, when Twin City Brick ceased operations, Bill Olson was well established in the industry and started Olson Brick Sales; a distributorship representing manufacturers from around the United States.
All of Bill’s sons have sold brick for Olson Brick Sales and today, the business is led by Scott Olson, who continues the family's 90+ year legacy in the industry by representing the nation's leading brick and masonry suppliers.