As the Casting Industry Suppliers Association nears its 100-year anniversary I am extremely proud to be the President of this long-standing organization. CISA, along with the foundry industry as a whole, continues to face day-to-day challenges. It appears that the overall business climate has rebounded from the doldrums of the early teens. The oil industry appears to be demanding castings, which was not the case just two to three years ago. In addition automotive demand remains high. These factors fuel the casting market in many aspects.
Most other types of castings are being purchased in higher volume than in the recent past, from construction to agriculture markets, which will mean a strong casting industry for the immediate future.
These increases impact casting production and output in this competitive market, but the situation also affects ongoing operations as we all struggle to fill the void in the labor market. Hiring and retaining talented personnel to fill the roles being vacated by retirement has become a major challenge for our industry.
Over 40 years of involvement in the foundry industry I have seen an almost complete changeover in the workforce, among both suppliers and foundry personnel. With these changes we see now a serious loss of the knowledge required to remain competitive and profitable through the years ahead. This lost experience is very difficult to replace. In addition, the younger workforce has different approaches to these jobs, which will also need to be addressed to keep our industry vibrant overall.
As any with experience hiring and retaining workers will agree, the X, Y and Millennial generations have different approaches to their careers. New engineers are being hired and indoctrinated at a rapid pace in the foundry sector, and the same is true for sales engineers on the supplier side of the market. What is needed is a plan to welcome, train and retain these skilled individuals in the workforce for years to come, and also to incorporate the approach to work that is typical for this younger generation.
CISA and its members, like all organizations, feel the change and recognize the focus required for us to remain vibrant. Business consolidation, both by foundries and suppliers, has reduced the number of members and candidates to join our organization. Those that choose to join are looking for the value that an organization like CISA can offer, and they need to capture the enthusiasm of younger individuals.
Recognizing this, CISA has made a change to retain members, and to attract new, young individual members. Our new Managing Director position has brought a new approach to do this, and along with the CISA statistical program we now offer regional training for new employees of member companies. Recently, 50 individuals attended a two-day training session with presentations by member companies covering sand products, chemical systems, coremaking and molding practice, metallurgy, melt practice and casting defect analysis. This low-cost benefit of CISA membership is an easy way to make our industry both interesting and fun for younger employees and demonstrates the depth of knowledge needed to be successful in the foundry industry.
Another new development saw CISA join the AFS at its recent annual Government Affairs Conference. Member companies enjoyed a CISA-sponsored event before the conference and attended Capitol Hill meetings with senators and representatives from every state where foundries operate. It was a perfect venue for expressing our industry’s common concerns. One of these, the issue of government regulation, appeared to draw particular interest and attention.
Our annual CISA Business Meeting is planned for November in Chicago. Speakers will represent major foundries and AFS, and legal and environmental experts will offer insights and forecasts. This meeting is always useful for planning the year ahead.
We plan to continue to partner with AFS, where there is a mutual benefit. Like AFS, CISA will remain vital to the foundry industry for years to come, and CISA officers and directors look forward to our new and revitalized approach to employee training and retention, and to promoting greater business knowledge in the future.
Thank you, again, for the opportunity to serve as CISA President. I am looking forward to the positive developments ahead for foundries and suppliers.
Mike Bartol is the 2017 President of the Casting Industry Suppliers, and Vice President, Metalcasting - Americas for MTI American Colloid Co. Mike has been active in plant operations and foundry technical sales for over 40 years. Contact him at [email protected]