A New Company

A New Company
There were signs of problems at The A.C. Williams Company beyond those normally associated with a growing and expanding company in the very competitive foundry business. The 125th Anniversary year, 1969, had been successful in sales volume only, not in profit. Scrap was at an all time high and production per employee had decreased in spite of some large expenditures for improved production equipment. There was some improvement during 1970 when Management was reshuffled and Profit Sharing was started for the first time with production employees. In fact, a substantial Profit Sharing bonus was shared with these employees for the year 1970. However, the production at the new Aluminum Permanent Mold foundry and the new Die Casting plant never approached anticipated rates of production; therefore, these two operations were not competitive. To further complicate the situation, new Federal and State laws had gone into effect covering Air Pollution Control, Environmental Control and Occupational, Safety and Health requirements, or OSHA, and all of these were particularly severe in the foundry industry. Melting metal, transporting molten metal to mold areas, pouring sand and metal molds, the cleanup work, removal of burned sand and excess metal from the castings, all generated severe problems for the foundry industry as far as the new codes were concerned. It made the cost of compliance very, very high. More than two years of effort went into the study and the basic engineering of the equipment necessary to handle the Pollution, Environmental, and OSHA problems for the Iron Division alone. It was very apparent that, while the problems could be solved, the Company could not afford to handle these in all five operations. The decision was made to concentrate on the two largest and potentially the most profitable, the Iron Division and the Magnesium Division. Through the years of 1972 and 1973, the Die Casting plant was closed down, then the new Aluminum Permanent Mold foundry was closed. After a short period of time, the Aluminum Sand foundry was shut down, leaving only the Magnesium operation of the entire Aluminum and Magnesium Division.

The Board of Directors and the Shareholders were then confronted with a major decision, perhaps the most important ever made at The A.C. Williams Company--should the new equipment on order for an Iron foundry be placed in the present plant in Ravenna??--this new equipment included electric melting equipment to replace relatively new cupolas and additional automatic molding equipment that would eventually replace the jolt-squeeze machines that had been the heart of the Iron Division for many years--or, should the Company move to a new location, build a new and much smaller plant around this new production equipment and utilize low-cost financing available in these communities who were eager to attract industry and generate jobs for their area residents. The new equipment was very costly and changes to a relatively old plant would be more expensive and less efficient than a completely new plant. Several communities in Ohio and others in the South had indicated their interest in A. C Williams Company by providing a location and giving financial assistance to build a modern Iron facility. The most important answer had to come from the production employees, the Officers of the local Union, and the International through some means of long-range stability that would assure the Company there would be no interruption of production and that a cooperative attitude would prevail in attaining production rates from the new equipment at a time when the Company was carrying a large debt load. Fortunately, for all concerned; the employees, the Company and the community, a long-term Labor Agreement was negotiated through July and August and signed in September of 1974, assuring the Company of genuine labor stability to 1980. Because of the Agreement, the decision was made to place the equipment, on order for a year, in the Iron Division in Ravenna.

A new President, Robert E. McCoy, took over the top Management position at the A.C. Williams Company. Work on the new installation went ahead full speed and by the summer of 1975, the electric melting equipment was installed and Iron was being melted in a completely different manner than in the previous 131 years. The majority of the automatic molding equipment was also installed and by Labor Day of 1975, the Iron Division was ready for the "New Era" of the foundry business and another chapter of A. C. Williams' history. The Heisler brothers, Jim, Bob, and Bruce sold their interest in 1977 to Robert E. McCoy and seven other management employees because a seventh generation was not available to continue the management by J.W. Williams' descendents.

Business was very strong and profitable. The new management group embarked upon a plan to supply its customers with aluminum, large iron, steel and short run products. Tri-Cast, a small iron plant in Akron was purchased in 1978, followed by a large iron foundry in Delaware, Ohio and a steel foundry in Barberton, Ohio in 1979. The Company was now capable of expanding it customer base while increasing sales to its existing customers. The aluminum foundry was started again in 1978 and a centrifugal foundry and machine shop were moved into the North Walnut plant. Sales grew from $6 million in 1977 to $36 million in 1980 but some large customers suddenly went bankrupt and could not pay their bills forcing the Company to cut back its operations, move through Chapter 11, coming out of it in January of 1983 with a plan to pay its creditors 100%. The Company sold off all operating plants except the magnesium and Tri-Cast operations before coming out of Chapter 11. A nail gun plant was started in Tallmadge but only lasted three years. The bulk of the pneumatic guns were designed into die castings eliminating the need for the operation. The unsecured creditors were paid off in 1993.

Dale E. McCoy succeeded his father as President January 1, 1994. The Company name is no longer used as the marketer. Two separate corporations operated independently of each other. Lite Metals Company, selling magnesium and aluminum castings nationwide from Ravenna, Ohio and Tri-Cast, Inc. of Akron, Ohio selling iron and ductile iron castings, also nationwide. The A.C. Williams Company, Inc. of Ravenna, Ohio still owns Lite Metals, Tri-Cast was sold in April of 2000.

Lite Metals employs less than fifty employees and plans to continue doing so in order to maintain better service to customers. Satisfied customers will help the company to survive in the future. Another 150 years is our goal.
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