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Goal-Focused Planning

Shannon Wetzel

In one of Aesop’s most famous fables, a thirsty crow sees a pitcher of water but it’s beak is not long enough to reach the liquid. He tries fruitlessly to push the pitcher over before coming up with a new plan—filling the pitcher with pebbles to bring the water level up. 

The crow could have continued to focus on finding ways to tip over the pitcher, but he remembered his goal was not to push the jug over but to get a drink of water!

This issue of Modern Casting holds two excellent examples of goal-focused planning from two world-class foundries. In our cover article, we share the story of Benton Foundry’s latest and largest expansion. Their level of planning illustrated here is why Modern Casting selected it as Metalcaster of the Year. This latest expansion was the last step in Benton Foundry’s goal of increasing the capabilities of its entire operations to meet the 250-ton per day capacity of its melting department. With each department’s renovation or upgrade, president Jeff Hall and his team planned for any potential needs up the road.

“When we do capital expenditure projects, we’re not focusing on where we’re at, but the future,” Hall said. “We have a lot of flexibility in design, but it’s also easily scalable. The infrastructure is in place, so we can just add a machine when and where needed so you keep the flow of the plant that you want.”

To read more about Benton Foundry’s coreroom expansion (and talent-development and environmental stewardship) see the full article on page 20.
The second example is a significant new development that was just announced days before this issue went to press. Dotson Iron Castings (which has been named Metalcaster of the Year and won Casting of the Year in the past) was sold to MacLean Power Systems. This transaction is the culmination of years of planning by majority stakeholders Denny Dotson and Jean Bye whose goal for selling the foundry was to find a buyer that would keep the operation running in Mankato, Minnesota.   

Dotson and Bye knew they didn’t want to sell to a large foundry group because they felt that scenario increased the chances of the plant being shut later on. They also didn’t want to sell to a company that might resell in a few years to make a profit. 

“With MacLean … it’s part of their supply chain,” Bye said. “[The foundry] is integral to the success of their product.”

You can read more about the acquisition on page 9.

Planning takes a lot of effort and strategic thinking, but it will all be for nothing if the true goal has not been defined or addressed. The goal is not the path.

Benton Foundry’s goal for its cleaning and grinding room wasn’t to increase the number of automatic grinding machines—the goal was to increase the capacity of cleaning and finishing. 

This is an exciting time for the North American foundry industry. Significant investments are ongoing, new greenfield operations are being built, and OEMs continue to seek out ways to build up their domestic sources for castings. Great planning now can deepen the industry’s roots even further for generations to come.