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Personal Business

Sept. 12, 2005
In spite of rising costs, foreign competition, and demanding customers, good people find ways to solve problems.

Recently I was introduced to a man who’s leading one of the most ambitious capital investment programs underway in metalcasting. He’s built an alliance with stakeholders and gained support from his corporate superiors, but he’s out in front of a project that some of his peers probably hope will fail. He’s blazing a trail, sort of, with untried technology against problems that most manufacturers have tried to avoid, legally or legislatively, or financially.

That project is the real story, and I plan to write more about it in an upcoming issue, but what struck me about this executive was his intrepid approach. He’s a foundry manager with challenges and concerns like many others, but in this effort he’s showing that he has committed himself to solving the problem. Not just addressing it — solving it. My hunch is that this will be a career-making effort for him, but his handling of it is not ego-driven. It is, however, an impressive personal effort.

Separately, I became acquainted with the story of a man who established a foundry business, a family business, almost literally from nothing. For over 50 years, by continually reinvesting himself, has endowed the company with his own personal values, ensuring its success.

Amid all the anxiety of rising energy and raw material costs, the encroachment of foreign competitors, the demands of customers to lower costs and improve service, problems do get solved. Less than a year ago, a series of foundries lurched into bankruptcy. Now, each one is reorganized, or nearly so. These are not just transactions; they are problems that were solved by the efforts of smart, hard-working people.

I raise all this because it’s important to recall that problems get solved because of the skills of individuals. The personal investment of one person is often the difference between an ongoing problem and a solution, and as our personal and professional lives become more intertwined it’s important to remember the value of good character. Traits like leadership, creativity, and selflessness are indispensable to a good organization.

None of these qualities can be taught, of course, though each is the subject of countless essays and testimonials. On the other hand, each of these qualities is easy to spot. Leaders give their charges the confidence to accomplish things none of them believed could be done. Creativity is the ability to assemble solutions from whatever resources are available. And, selflessness is the ability to forego credit for the satisfaction of knowing a job is well done.

Thirteen years ago, Foundry Management & Technology established the Hall of Honor program to preserve and prolong recognition for men and women who have made significant contributions to metalcasting. Each year since then, the September issue has introduced new members to the roster of honorees.

This year’s honoree was an obvious choice to those who know him. We received several unsolicited, very warm endorsements for him. I hope those who don’t know him will concur with our selection, and perhaps learn from his example.

What has distinguished Dwight Barnhard — what continues to distinguish him among many talented people — is his personal investment in the issues and concerns of the metalcasting industry. He has demonstrated leadership, creativity, and selflessness in ways that have brought him respect and admiration. To that well-earned recognition, we’re pleased to add our appreciation.