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'Help the eagles fly.' (95th AFS Casting Congress, May 5-9, 1991 - Hoyt Memorial Lecture)

This year's Edgar J. Hoyt Memorial Lecturer, Hugh M. Sims, Jr., adapted the title of his address from Robert Schuller's book, Power to Grow Beyond Yourself In his book, Schuller tells an old Indian tale about a brave who finds an eagle's egg that had fallen from its nest. The brave put the unbroken egg into the nest of a prairie chicken, where it hatched. The newborn eaglet was then adopted and raised by prairie chickens.

Despite knowing that he looked different from the other birds, the eaglet learned to do what the prairie chickens did: "scratch in the dirt for seeds and insects, cluck and cackle, and fly just a few feet off the ground with wings thrashing in the wind. After all, that's how prairie chickens fly. They didn't know any other way."

But as he became fully grown, the eagle noticed other birds similar to himself soaring high overhead. The prairie chickens explained that it was an eagle and told him "not to give it a second thought, you can never be like him." But the young eagle was too enamored with the majestic birds he saw overhead. And one day, he took a running start, leaped into the air, began flapping his powerful wings and "instead of rising a few feet, as usual, he soared into the sky and found his true potential and destiny."

The difference came, Sims said, "when the chicken-eagle caught a glimpse of excellence and something clicked inside. He had always heard an inner voice whisper, 'You can do more than this,' but he never responded. He had taken the advice of his chicken companions who said, Why make more dust than necessary as you scratch your way through life? Settle for the status quo; it's safer than the wild blue yonder."

Sims' concern is the continuing ability of the U.S. to compete in an increasingly competitive world market. The key to competitiveness, he said, is an educated, well-trained work force.

"We all have good employees, and they see us as eagles. It is up to us to be the 'real eagles' and help our people do more than scratch in the dirt,' he said. "We must teach and lead them to fly and let them soar! These employees are our future."

Sims, vice president of marketing, ulcan Engineering Co., Inc., Birmingham, Alabama, has been a national director as well as vice president and president of AFS. He was awarded the AFS Thomas W. Pangborn Gold Medal in 1990. Sims also served as president of the Foundry Educational Foundation and has been active in various other metalcasting organizations.

Throughout his career, he has been a strong proponent of higher education. In his lecture this year, Sims emphasized on-the-job training and continuing education. His fears about the future of American manufacturing and the literacy of its employees are well founded.

"It's hard for me to imagine that 25-30% of America's adults in 1991 are functionally illiterate. The U.S. ranks 49th in the world in its literacy rate. Some 48 other countries have a higher percentage of people who can read, write or do math than America," he said. "As the world enters this new era called the 'information age,' where higher education and better skills are needed to compete, our literacy rate will not allow us to stay in the race."

Sims pointed to several foundries that have implemented programs to educate, train and retrain their employees. Among those companies cited were Grede Foundries, Motor Castings Co. and Robinson Foundry.

"The idea of workplace learning is not a new concept, but it has taken on a new meaning in the past couple of years," Sims said. "Many of our larger companies have had successful programs for years, but tomorrow every company, regardless of size, must have a formal plan for helping their people."

"According to the American Society for Training and Development, with regard to work-related training, 'employers deliver learning to more people than does the entire higher education system and spend about $30 billion a year in direct costs for formal training courses that they provide themselves or buy from outside suppliers.'"

In closing, Sims urged foundry executives to take the initiative in employee training.

"I challenge everyone in our industry to get involved in education at every level but, most importantly, get involved in your company with the education of your employees and their families," he said. "As managers, executives and leaders, it is our responsibility to help the eagles fly."
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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