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Grede Buys, Will Close RMG Waukesha Foundry

June 9, 2020
Nearly 120 workers are affected by the closing of the Wisconsin iron foundry this summer, as the buyer transfers production of heavy-truck castings to its own plants.

The Grede foundry group acquired the onetime Navistar iron foundry in Waukesha, WI, and plans to shutter Renaissance Manufacturing Group Waukesha LLC in the coming months, according to a layoff notice filed with the Wisconsin Dept. of Workforce Development on June 1. A total of 119 employees of RMG Waukesha LLC will be affected by the closing.

The cost and other terms of the purchase were not announced.

The private Renaissance Manufacturing Group purchased the Wisconsin foundry from Navistar International Corp. in May 2015. It is mainly a ductile-iron operation, casting parts for automotive, construction, and agricultural equipment manufacturing.

Renaissance Manufacturing Group will continue to operate the RMG Anniston LLC foundry in Anniston, AL, and RMG Machining LLC, a precision machine shop in Grafton, WI.

Grede, which was bought by Gamut Capital Management from American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings late last year, acquired the RMG Waukesha "book of business" from RMG Waukesha LLC, and will relocate production of those orders to its other foundry operations.

According to the seller's explanation, the Waukesha foundry is a high-cost operation facing declining demand for its core product: castings for commercial vehicle manufacturing.

"We have recently seen a dramatic decrease in heavy-truck sales, with higher than ever increasing business costs," RMG Waukesha's layoff notice stated. "This is occurring in a market where customers are demanding significant price decreases. The combination of events has forced us into selling the business to a buyer better equipped with product-to-process fit for improved product cost."

Grede operates 10 plants in Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

“Grede is well capitalized and poised for growth within a fragmented and distressed foundry supply base, and this strategic acquisition strengthens our position in the castings industry,” Grede CEO Cary Wood stated. “This investment further brings us new customers and aligns with the markets we are serving while expanding the products and materials we produce.”

According to the buyer's announcement, the purchase will move Grede closer toward its goal of "balancing its portfolio equally among the automotive, commercial vehicle and industrial markets."

The foundry in Waukesha facility has been operating since 1896. International Harvester (later, Navistar) acquired the plant in 1946. It began a shift to ductile iron production nearly 40 years ago, but it also produces austempered ductile iron, high-temperature and abrasion-resistant ferrous alloys, and compacted graphite iron (CGI).