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Something Old, Something New

Rich Jefferson

One of the big goals for AFS is to constantly create more value for Corporate Members. When the 2019 AFS Metalcasting Forecast & Trends hits your inbox at the first of the year, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to see what’s new. We think you will find it an exceptionally valuable resource.

After spending the year researching ways to make the Forecast more vital, we have an approach that could be called “something old, something new.”

Sometimes it’s good to try something new. On the other hand, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And sometimes it’s not one or the other of those options, but both.

For the old, the Forecast is not changing, with the exception that we have been asked to ensure we include a lesser-used alloy that we had stopped reporting on. The graphs and the data will all be included.

What’s new is the analysis of issues vital to our members. Our point is not to dig up “breaking news,” but to delve into trends and see if we can offer some helpful information for the coming year, to provide a metalcasting context for our metalcasting readers.

Why are we going this direction? The AFS brand umbrella covers areas of critical interest for metalcasters: technical services (research, conferences, Metalcasting Congress, technical support, committees), education (the Institute), membership services of a wide variety, AFS Chapters, and media.

Media is marketing and communications on behalf of AFS Technical Services, the AFS Institute, and AFS Membership Services. We produce a panoply of media:  

  • One AFS Metalcasting Forecast and Trends.
  • Two magazines.
  • Seven newsletters.
  • Video.
  • Promotional postcards, brochures, posters for AFS conferences.
  • Targeted marketing email.
  • Social media.
  • The Modern Casting Buyer’s Guide.
  • The Metal Casting Design & Purchasing Casting Source Directory.

We do all this, in house. We’re constantly talking to industry experts: suppliers, foundries, and buyers. We have the good fortune to interact regularly with them. The Forecast, as you have known it, offers you one kind of analytical tool. We are adding to the tool box with analysis of other trends in metalcasting.

This year’s articles are a pilot project. Our plan is to expand and refine these analysis pieces each successive Forecast. Among the topics we are going to cover are employment and education in metalcasting, supply chain, government affairs (USA), and energy. We hope to add some other topics in coming years.

We have absorbed various criticisms about the Forecast, which is normal. Thank you, one and all, because you helped push us to make these additions to the Forecast. One of the criticisms is that aggregate metalcasting numbers don’t help anyone. Aluminum foundries say they have little use for data about iron foundry output, and vice versa. But wait.

There is a most excellent reason to include aggregate numbers as a key part of the Forecast. When the AFS goes about its important business on Capitol Hill and with executive branch agencies, it’s important that the non-metalcasting audience (most everyone in Washington) understands the full economic importance of the entire metalcasting industry, not just one segment. This is why we will continue reporting aggregate numbers along with the breakdown.

Although not everyone appreciates the Forecast, there are those who look forward to receiving it. One email I received stated, “We are looking at our 2019 budgets right now and last year we used a projection that AFS had published on how they expected the foundry industry to perform in 2018. I was hoping to get this projection for 2019 so I can again use it in my own projections for our company. Can you share this information with us?”

Thank you for asking. Yes, we can help you.

We are staying focused on our goal of creating value for our members. For Corporate Members, your Forecast will be delivered to your inbox in the new year.

Click here to see this story as it appears in the December 2018 issue of Modern Casting.