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Working together for the future.

Welcome to Atlanta, the "Gateway to the South." As we convene the 102nd Casting Congress, many of you will have your first opportunity to savor the special nature of a city in the "old south." During your visit I hope that you will take the opportunity to enjoy Atlanta's rich heritage and culture.

We gather in Atlanta during a time of opportunity for our industry. We have been enjoying several years of good business, and forecasts indicate that these trends will continue for the next several years. It is my hope that the management and technical presentations of this Congress will strengthen our individual companies so that we will be prepared for our future as a collectively healthy industry.

We are a dynamic industry, focused on improving productivity and driven to change by competitive pressures, technological advancements and customer demands. Pressurized change is the nature of our industry, and arguably the nature of most basic manufacturing. If we are to handle such change and enjoy the future under new conditions, we must "expand the foundry pie."

The metalcasting industry has been maligned as a "smokestack industry." This is true even though we are at the core of our nation's manufacturing, an unidentified essential component of our country's manufacturing backbone. We produce components for others, and, as a consequence, we are an industry with little name recognition. Too often we are an industry that is not valued by our customers, except as a necessary raw material source. It is a mistake to overlook us because we are a large industry that will ship products valued in excess of $20 billion during 1998. Our industry is cutting-edge and focused on internal quality enhancements. Our companies are not blacksmith's shops, and we shouldn't be characterized as such. We are, as the Dept. of Defense characterizes us, one of the "industries of the future."

But how can our industry capitalize on this designation? We must elevate the perception of our products in our customers' eyes. We must begin to market our products and our companies as valued and value-adding components in the stream of manufacturing commerce.

Some of the companies in our industry have become large enough to market themselves without the assistance of AFS. Most, however, are not. If we are to "expand the foundry pie" we must make a concerted effort. It will take a focus on education, technology transfer and marketing that is larger than any one of our companies. AFS is an institution uniquely positioned to fulfill the role as an "honest broker" in implementing this agenda.

AFS has accomplished its original goal of creating a vehicle for technology transfer. CMI, our technology transfer vehicle, is the educational arm of choice for many foundries. If your company is not taking advantage of CMI, you are putting your company at a competitive disadvantage. CMI is expertly fulfilling its role of providing first-class training to our shop floor personnel.

Through the consolidation of our societies in the mid-80s, we have strengthened our voice in Washington. In addition, we have broadened our training mission to include human resource and management subjects.

As we approach the next century, we all would do well to heed Ben Franklin's statement upon signing the Declaration of Independence: "We must indeed now all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." We don't have to share "secrets," but we should unite to solve our common problems. Among these problems are: presenting a united front in our search for reason and equity in the legislative and regulatory process; continuing AFS' technology-transfer mission; and developing and funding a strategy that will elevate our customers' perceptions of our products.

In the competitive world in which we live, the only vehicle to accomplish these common goals is AFS. The core of our society is our membership of more than 12,000. Those individual members represent the breadth of our national commitment to the metalcasting industry. Our corporate members, however, are the heart of our continuing operations, in terms of funding. All foundries must join AFS as corporate members. Those who are not corporate members are still receiving the benefits of AFS' work. Given that, fairness demands their participation in the support of AFS programs.

This organization, your organization, continues to be positioned to support the common goals of all foundry men and women in their pursuit of a healthy industry. The question is not whether we can, as individual companies, survive without AFS. The real question is: Does the existence of AFS contribute to the building of a healthier metalcasting industry? The answer to this is an unequivocal and resounding "YES!" We have created a vehicle for training, intervention and dialogue. These functions are essential for our growth.

As we come to Atlanta for the 102nd AFS Casting Congress, let us collectively offer a prayer of thanks for our metalcasting industry and for the country in which we live. Welcome to HOTLANTA!

George G. Boyd, Sr., AFS President Goldens' Foundry & Machine Co.
COPYRIGHT 1998 American Foundry Society, Inc.
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Title Annotation:purpose of the American Foundrymen's Society's conference on May 1998 in Atlanta, GA
Author:Boyd, George G.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1998
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