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Celebrating the Milestones

Shannon Wetzel

As a kid, (when I wasn’t reading) I would often pass the time during long road trips counting down the miles to our destination by watching for the markers along the side of the road. With the atlas on my lap, I’d track our progress to the next interchange.  

In the pages of Modern Casting, we often have the pleasure of reporting the anniversaries of businesses, groups, and individuals. For example, on page 46 of this issue, Pam Lechner writes about FEF celebrating 75 incredible years serving the metalcasting industry. Calling significant achievements “milestones” is fitting. They are not the end goal, but they are necessary to surpass on the way to the destination.

Actual milestones that mark the physical distance between locations have been used at least since the days of the Roman empire. They helped travelers know how far they’ve gone and how far there is left to go. While most companies have an “ending” they are traveling to when it comes to celebrating anniversaries, other milestone achievements do represent progress toward a destination, such as reaching a certain safety, quality, or personnel metric. And, once that metric is met, a new trip can be charted.

Watching for mile markers as a kid helped break up long stretches of road, and finally reaching the next step held a sense of satisfaction. (I’m sure my children view this pre-cellphone experience as the “olden days.”) Still, the same feeling holds true when celebrating life and business milestones. Even if we are not at the final destination, getting closer—making progress—is worthy of recognizing and celebrating.

The business profile of Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry (WAF) on page 18 shows how this metalcasting business is mapping out its course and tracking its movement to better meet customer needs and become a more compelling place to work. In terms of attracting and retaining an engaged staff, WAF uses a transparent incentive plan, including monthly financial reports, to show its workers where they are going and how far away they are. Reaching milestones closer to the goal are celebrated.

The celebration and recognition of milestones are key—particularly when the trip is a long one. In many cases, ambitious goals—say bringing a scrap rate to less than 1%—can take a decade or longer.  But their can still be a strong sense of satisfaction and pride in the incremental improvements along the way.

Finally, I’m writing this editorial just a week the passing of respected AFS colleague Steve Robison, who served 26 years in the technical department. He was a friend of the magazine and constant resource on various metalcasting matters. His support, advice, and knowledge will be missed, but his life and career achievements are to be celebrated.