An Opportunity to Give Back Time, Leadership, and Guidance
When Adam San Solo, now vice president-infrastructure for Neenah Enterprises, looks back on his career in the foundry industry, he credits AFS for helping advance his metalcasting knowledge and career. Now he’s making it a point of promoting access to the same benefits to the newest generation of metalcasters. San Solo currently serves as president of AFS after previously serving on the AFS Board of Directors from 2012-2106. He has degrees from Columbia Engineering and Yeshiva University. Modern Casting caught up with San Solo to discuss what he’s gained from his AFS involvement over the years.
Modern Casting: What’s your background in the foundry industry?
Adam San Solo: I began working in the foundry industry “accidentally” 32 years ago, answering a help-wanted ad for a design engineer in the local newspaper. I say accidentally because at the time I had never heard of a foundry and had no idea what they did! Once I started, I was hooked—the technology, the process, and most of all, the people.
MC: How and when did you first become involved with AFS?
San Solo: My first encounters with AFS were through classes I attended at Cast Metals Institute (now AFS Institute). Beyond learning the subject matter, I began to build a professional network at those classes and used AFS regional events and Cast Expo to continue to meet people and learn about the industry.
MC: What has kept you active in the Society?
San Solo: For many years, my activity was very one sided: AFS facilitated opportunities for my professional development, so I could learn and meet people who could help me and my foundry, and paired me with suppliers. Over time, many of these people became friends, and I looked forward to seeing them at various gatherings. Finally, I reached a point where I was able to look back on all AFS had meant to me, and I knew that I wanted to give back, making sure others could benefit from our society as I have.
MC: Throughout your career, you have worked for companies that are Corporate Members. How have you seen these companies utilize their membership benefits?
San Solo: Training would be the biggest benefit I have seen. We subscribe to e-learning, regularly send employees to classes and seminars, and encourage participation at every level of the organization. We have tapped into the services offered by the technical staff at AFS, an unparalleled value.
MC: You are a frequent attendee of the AFS D.C. Fly-in—why is it important to be involved in advocacy and how do you use your involvement to help your company and career?
San Solo: While it may sound corny, our government really does listen when constituents speak. By regularly attending the AFS Fly-in, and subsequent follow-ups, our senators, Congressional representatives, and their staffs are familiar with what we do and where we need their help. Through building these relationships, we have had opportunities to host two senators, our representatives, and even attend an Oval Office signing with the president.
MC: What has been your goal or goals in your year as AFS president?
San Solo: I have been privileged to lead the board through an extensive strategic planning exercise, building the plan for AFS to follow for the next five years. In addition, I have put a keen focus on workforce development—clearly the biggest challenge facing our industry.
MC: What are the most pressing challenges to the industry, in your opinion, and how does AFS help foundries face those
San Solo: As just mentioned, attracting, hiring, and retaining our workforce has always been a challenge, but now even more critically as we compete with a nationwide talent shortage. AFS provides training, workshops for managers, and leadership summits all devoted to helping the industry with this issue. Working through local chapters, we push for outreach to students to introduce them to our industry. Additionally, government regulation and foreign trade issues are other areas where our members can look to AFS for support, offering better understanding of the issues and help with advocacy to benefit our members.