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Metalcaster’s Fourth Generation Brings Fresh Ideas

Nicholas Leider

In May 2012, Megan Kirsh joined the family business, an iron job shop in Beaver Dam, Wis, making her the fourth generation to punch the clock at Kirsh Foundry Inc. since it was opened by her great grandfather in 1937. To the outsider, joining the company, led by her father, Jim, and uncle, Steve, might have seemed like an obvious destination.

Megan, however, took a bit of a circuitous path to Beaver Dam. After receiving a master’s in marriage and family therapy from Northern Illinois Univ., Dekalb, Ill., she took her first steps in pursuit of a career—only to grow disenchanted with her field. The prospect of switching gears and joining the family business grew more appealing, until she finally seized the opportunity.

“For me, it was a huge opportunity to be a part of something that’s really cool,” Megan Kirsh said. “I pulled a 180 [to] see how I liked it. I stayed tentative for about a year. I always thought I could go back and do what I was doing. But so far, I’m still here. I’m still really excited.”

The director of marketing and sales, Kirsh has been focused primarily on the company’s value proposition. To this end, she has overseen an overhaul of the company’s website to be more client-oriented and distinguish Kirsh Foundry from other metalcasting facilities that offer similar products and services. Kirsh also has developed Foundry 101, a customer education program to build knowledge about metalcasting and the company’s specific capabilities that debut earlier this year.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been working hand in hand with Jim Kirsh, my father, on where he wants the company to go,” she said. “What are the priorities that are important to us? Where do we see ourselves in five or 10 years?”

Asking those questions, which some companies may avoid doing, can allow a metalcaster to better position themselves in the market. If price is similar among a few potential suppliers, a properly crafted message about value and additional benefits can lead to new customers.

“Asking yourself, ‘What makes our foundry different? What makes our company better than one very similar to us?’ opens an entire conversation,” she said. “It allows you to develop a script on what you can offer and why you’re different. Once you get that set, you can more easily develop a roadmap for a marketing plan.”

Bringing an outsider’s perspective to a business with generations of experience and knowledge, Kirsh hopes to help guide Kirsh Foundry along a path of sustainable growth and continued stability. As for her training in family systems therapy?

“It comes in handy every now and again,” she said. 

Click here for the full interview between Megan Kirsh and marketing expert Mark Mehling.