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Looking forward to the 90s.

Looking Forward to the '90s

One of the last things my predecessor, Jack Schaum, said to me before retiring in 1982 was, "Dave, I've never seen it this bad." He was referring to the business conditions of the early '80s, of course. This was after his spending 26 years as editor of modern casting and several previous years connected with the foundry industry. Little did any of us know at the time that it was going to get worse before it got better.

By 1983-84, a staff of 11 people was reduced to four and at one point, three people. The entire staff of AFS was cut by nearly half. I remember telling myself and anyone else who would listen, "If we can get through this, we can get through anything." And we did, somehow.

The first half of the decade was tough. Whast was happening at AFS and modern casting was a direct reflection of what the entire foundry industry was going through. You almost hated answering the phone. Foundries closing. Friends out of work. Mergers and buyouts. Pay freezes and more cutbacks. That was life in the foundry industry in the early and mid-1980s.

The second half of the decade got better. Business didn't exactly come roaring back, but most of us adjusted to the conditions and discovered that we could make a buck or two while doing thigs differently. We were relearning the lessons of productivity and quality. "Lean and mean" were the watchwords of the day.

For most foundry people, it wasn't until late in the '80s that they finally began to concede that business was indeed better. But it didn't necessarily feel that way. People still seemed to be in a frenzy, somehow still uncomfortable about prospects for tomorrow, for next year. "If business is so good," I asked a friend, "why doesn't it feel better?"

His answer was something that had never crossed my mind before. He said, "It's really a lot harder coming out of a recession than going into one." He was right.

We had all scaled down to match the declining business conditions of seven or eight years earlier. But now with business on the rise we were hesitant or unable to gear up to meet the rise. We were either not going to put ourselves in the difficult position we were in at the beginning of the decade or the skill and experience we gave up back then were simply no longer available. So, we tried to do more with less, and do it better than we ever had.

The 1980s was sure a challenging decade. And while reminiscing might be good for the sould, it really has little or no place in business. I tried to get that message across a few years back, but I think it bears repeating now: "We all have to work at forgetting the way things were. The good old days don't do us any good as we plan for the future. Neither will the bad ones. Our past successes and failures mean nothing to the future."

Planning for tomorrow's business means forgetting about yesterday's.

That why I'm looking forward to the '90s.
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Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:editorial
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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