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A Positive Perspective

Alfred Spada

Standing on the CastExpo exhibition floor last month, I made a 360-degree turn to see all the sights before my eyes. The shiny equipment. The bright lights. The networking. The potential for the future.

The best of the industry was on display at the once-every-three-year showcase, and I was in awe. To understand where this industry was in 2009-10, to see where it is today and to think where it is going is amazing. Many had expected North American metalcasting to go the way of the dinosaurs. Instead, it is now a beacon of success the rest of the world points to.

Yes, we have significant challenges:
• Critical markets like agriculture, energy and mining are significantly down.
• The new silica PEL rule is a major hurdle for the large percentage of our industry utilizing silica sand.
• Finding skilled labor (or any labor at all) is difficult.
• Our customers continue to demand more and want to pay less.

But look at just a few of the headlines we have run in the magazine in the last year:
• Waupaca Unveils New Growth Strategy
• Linamar, GF Automotive Choose North Carolina for New Operations
• Fritz Winter to Build Casting Facility in Kentucky
• Sakthi Breaks Ground on Aluminum Casting Facility in Detroit
• Kamtek to Invest in New Diecasting Facility in Alabama
• Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Purchases Precision Castparts

Hopefully, these headlines and the other regularly occurring positive news can finally put to rest the misnomer that new casting facilities and expansion isn’t happening in the U.S. Couple this investment with the tremendous expansion and adoption of additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping that is occurring, and you have an industry poised to handle the future. When the down markets return to some normalcy, watch out for North American metalcasting.

While my messages in this editorial space tend to cheerlead the positive, I am calling it like I see it. In your production-driven world, you must focus on the critical aspects of your business to push castings out the door. My responsibility is to scream from the mountaintops a 10,000-ft-view that examines the trends in the industry.

I gained some additional perspective while on the CastExpo show floor. Hopefully, you did as well.