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Responding to Recovery, Dealing with Demand

Aug. 13, 2018
CISA keeps the focus on networking, technology exchange, and professional and market development

The Casting Industry Suppliers Association will celebrate its 100th anniversary on October 1.  The Board of Directors and Managing Director are very proud of this accomplishment, and we would like to thank all of the industry suppliers for their continued support and involvement in this supplier focused organization.  The past few years have been a difficult period due to business consolidations and a reduced field of supplier members.  Going forward, we will continue to grow our organizational efforts on networking and technology exchange, responsive to the members’ input.

Your input is always requested, and reacted upon.  As I end my two-year term as CISA President in November, I would like to thank all of you who have continued to support our efforts, and for the continued focus of the Board and CISA members to sustain this influential organization. Business levels continue to be vibrant for our foundry customers, and the market dynamics of the past two- to three-year period remain as positive as we have enjoyed in this recent cycle. The focus has shifted from fulfilling customers’ material requirements to helping the foundry industry to address government mandates on “free silica” and “silica dust regulations”, and on how to help foundries meet these new limits. 

In addition, I note that sourcing of a number of critical raw materials is controlled by suppliers in China, Russia, and South Africa, as well as Mexico and Canada.  Newly imposed tariffs are having far-reaching effects on the supply side of foundry economics.  At this time, we cannot say that the overall impact has been fully realized, and we will continue to work with our customers to address these issues. 

Oil prices, which had been forecast to remain at $50-60/barrel, have exceeded these budgeted levels, resulting in fuel-related surcharges that are difficult to recover.  Last but not least, the ability to adequately fill all of our staffing demands remains a major problem for both supplier and foundry operations. 

Federal “infrastructure” funding potentially means far-reaching positive effects for foundry production, for certain segments of the industry.  Agriculture and construction casting demand remains strong, as does automotive demand, so most of the elements are in place for continued economic strength.  Inflation and tariffs can change this outlook, quickly, so as suppliers we need to be diligent in all of our planning and efforts.

Everyone will note that during this mid-term election season there is a heightened focus on employee job training; it’s a key talking point for many candidates. As supplier businesses, we can strengthen our industry by promoting intern programs, summer training and other employment opportunities, as well as taking an active role in career days and job fairs.  Efforts like these will bolster potential workers’ interest in our industry.  We have to spread the word to young people, professional and skilled-trade workers, that our industry is not all noise and grime, as they may suppose.  Anyone visiting a metalcasting operation can see that both suppliers and operators offer opportunities for professional and financial advancement.  We need to continue to promote our industry as a lifelong career path. 

Across North America it is apparent that employee retention is a problem for all industries: We need to maintain our efforts to lead the world in both foundry production and supply-side technical resources.

Our annual CISA Business Meeting will take place in November, in Chicago. Speakers will represent major foundries, and legal and environmental experts will offer insights and forecasts.  You’ll find it 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 look forward to the positive developments ahead for foundries and suppliers.
Mike Bartol is the 2017-2018 President of the Casting Industry Suppliers, and Vice President, Metalcasting - Americas for MTI American Colloid Co. He has been active in plant operations and foundry technical sales for over 41 years. Contact him at  [email protected]