Web Site: www.bentonfoundry.com
A PUBLICATION BY BENTON FOUNDRY, INC.
BF History Part 4:
In our last article the story continued about the Harrington Family achievements. We will now step back a bit to the early 1920’s and discuss events that not only impacted Benton Foundry but also the entire iron industry. There were two adventurous lads growing up in an era that saw both economic prosperity and decline. In the midst of the “roaring twenties,” the Great Depression, and many other significant events, they emerged as entrepreneurs in the iron industry.
Alfred J. Hall and Elmer Kime, both from Scranton, worked in various foundries in Scranton, New Jersey and New York to learn their trade as foundrymen through actual “hands on” experience.
In 1929, with $2,000 as capital and a good knowledge of foundry operations, Hall and Kime took over the then bankrupt Hallstead Iron Foundry in Hallstead, Pennsylvania. They only had $500 between them and borrowed $1,500 to close the deal.
The beginnings were tough with both men actually living and sleeping right in the foundry! They would make the molds on certain days and melt and pour the iron on other days. An understatement would be that they started the business modestly, supplying all of the manpower themselves. It is estimated that about 3 tons of metal were poured weekly in those early days.
A small building initially housed the original Hallstead foundry. Prior to being used as a foundry, it was a glass factory. After a few years of successful operations and attaining an excellent reputation, the co-owners of the Hallstead Iron Foundry expanded the business not only in plant size but also in state-of-the-art equipment. Through good use of equipment and an aggressive work force, Hallstead Iron Foundry became a very enviable competitor in the grey iron casting business.
Even though the business started to skyrocket, times were still relatively rough. A.J. Hall got married and had three children. Fritz Hall recalls that in the early days he always thought that he belonged to a very large family, when it was actually borders
who lived in the Hall residence. They were men from the foundry who paid $1.00 a day for room and board. Mrs. Hall stayed very busy with the cooking and cleaning for this so called “large family.”
The Hallstead Iron Foundry supplied manufacturers with castings for pumps, electric motors, textile machinery, washing machines and some automobile parts.
The company that two young foundrymen started came a long way after the 1929 beginnings (from two men to 180 men, from 3 tons a week to 45 tons a day). According to A.J. Hall, the winning combination of sound management, an alert aggressive work force, and up-to-date machinery enabled them to reach goals no one ever dreamed would be achieved.
Alfred J. Hall and Elmer Kime worked hard to learn the metal casting process and with a strong work ethic, took a dream and paved the way for future foundrymen, in particular Benton foundrymen.
Our next article will cover the 1958 takeover of Benton Foundry by Hallstead Iron Foundry and in 1975, the ownership transferred to Fritz and Butch Hall.
Congratulations to Ed Whitmoyer (above), Benton Foundry’s 1st shift Employee of the Quarter. Ed works as an Electrician in our Maintenance Department. He previously worked in our Molding Department as a machine operator. He has received this award in the past. Ed is a loyal and dedicated employee with over 42 years of service. He and his wife Deb, live in the Hughesville area. Thank you and Congratulations Ed!
Congratulations to Tim Shepherd (below), Benton Foundry’s 2nd shift Employee of the Quarter. Tim works in our Molding Department as a Machine Operator. He has been employed for over 23 years and he has received this award in the past. Tim is willing to fill in wherever necessary. Tim lives in the Benton area with his wife, Tanya and their children. He enjoys spending time with his family when he isn’t working. Thank you and Congratulations Tim!
olumbia County is currently home to many invasive species – plants, animals and insects that are not native to the area and are causing damage by growing out of control. The latest on the list of invaders is the spotted lanternfly. If any of you have been to a city lately you have likely seen many of these pests and the edge of their influence creeps ever closer to our area. These insects suck the sap out of trees and leave behind a sticky substance called honeydew. This honeydew supports the growth of a mold that is toxic to humans and many animals. Because they have no known predators in this area (they come from Asia) they can grow rapidly and unabated. It appears preying mantis can handle them, though there is certainly easier prey for them to find. The best stance to be made right now is by people – if you see them, kill them and scrape their egg masses (especially on vehicles). In November a representative from the PA Department of Agriculture came to inspect Benton Foundry against our Spotted Lanternfly Permit. We were complimented for our efforts so far and advised to remain vigilant.
ome years ago, biologists determined the population of Monarch butterflies was in a steep decline. When the information was shared about the Monarch relying (nearly exclusively) on native milkweed species (which are also in steep decline), many set out to help. Being in a good geography for it, Benton Foundry joined the cause. Now, a few years later with only gentle encouragement, we have no less than six native varieties of milkweed sprinkled in several areas covering more than an acre. Nothing needed to be cleared or disturbed and the milkweed lives in equilibrium with the countless other native species that have always been here. We simply nudged nature in a direction and let her do the work.
What is often seen as simply a useless weed (it’s even in the name!), continues to be rediscovered as an interlinked piece of a highly complex line of biodiversity stretching well past the Monarch butterfly. Many plants develop different types of defense strategies to avoid predation or sometimes encourage visiting animals to wander closer. Even in the chemical warfare arena, there are a number of different avenues explored by various species (think poison ivy, grapes, nightshade, chili peppers, marijuana, and pitcher plants). Milkweed is no exception and appears to have taken a rather unique strategy in that it produces a cocktail rich in steroid-like chemicals called cardenolides. In some animals these chemicals significantly disrupt life functions and in other animals (like the Monarch caterpillars) act to speed development. There is also a non-native oleander aphid which feeds exclusively on milkweed which kicks off a food chain that passes through ladybugs and lacewings and onto American songbirds.
Broad spectrum herbicides used recklessly appear to be the most prolific cause of the decline of milkweed populations. In the Midwest, most estimates put the drop at roughly 60 percent since 1999… and that was in 2012. The largest misuse of broad-spectrum herbicides, believe it or not, is not in commercial farming operations, but in residential use. Homeowners are the most likely to ignore instructions, carelessly mix concentrates, disregard wind patterns, and spray (or pour) far more chemical than is needed. This holds true for pesticides and fertilizers, as well. Farmers typically operate on razor-thin margins and any wasted chemicals deeply impact their profitability. Any farmer misusing their very expensive chemicals won’t be a farmer for long…
The lessons here? Be careful with your chemicals – follow instructions. Don’t discount something just because it is called a weed. Look around and enjoy what we have just in case it isn’t here tomorrow. If you have an unused corner of your garden, consider renting that space to some milkweed and enjoy the group it sublets to.
e had several participants in our office ugly sweater contest. Participants from left to right – Tim Kepner, Morgan Hoover, Jim Lamoreaux, Lynn Miller, Kyle Hall, Lori McAndrew, Donna Remley, Brittian Kittle, Annette Brown, Sheila Vansock and Sherry Steele.
Sherry Steele was our winner and Sheila Vansock was the runner-up.
From the Top, Left to Right: Don Copeland (Air Force), Bill Ferguson (Army), Dave Emmett (Air Force), Frank Packer (Army), Tom Vandine (Navy), Gene Eckroth (Navy), Nick Wilson (Marines), Kenny O’Brecht (Army), Bob Little (Army), Jim Lamoreaux (Navy), Dave Hetler (Army), Bob Houser (Army), Randy Kadtke (Air Force), Eric Piatt (Navy), Tim Kepner (Air Force), Gabe Slodysko (Navy), Shawn Nevel (Navy), Sean Burke (Navy)
Thank You For Your Service!
he Christmas spirit was alive and well at Benton Foundry, if you just looked for it. This was readily evident by the amount of Christmas trees nestled throughout the plant.
Congratulations to Ryan Keeler (above), Benton Foundry’s 1st shift Employee of the Year. Ryan has been employed since 2020. He is currently the Assistant Melt Supervisor. Ryan previously worked in our core room. He lives in Benton with his wife Miranda and their two children Brayden and Madelyn. Ryan enjoys spending time with them, when he isn’t working.
Congratulations to Billy Green (below), Benton Foundry’s 2nd shift Employee of the Year. Billy works in our Melt Department as an Iron Pourer. He has been here for several years, previously working in the grinding room. Billy lives in Benton and he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, riding 4-Wheelers, snowmobiles and working on small engines when he isn’t working.
he picture to the right was taken somewhere in the mid-1990’s. This picture shows the group of guys that came to work for Benton Foundry when Hallstead Foundry closed in 1987. There were a few additional gentlemen initially, but the ones shown here stayed and worked at Benton for many years in various departments throughout the foundry. They would stay locally throughout the workweek, traveling home on the weekends.
We were thankful for their experience, which they were willing to share and their dedication to their craft.
ongratulations to Dave McLucas on his recent retirement. Dave was a key member of our Production Office for over 27 years. He would come in and work the early morning hours. Dave also filled-in as the production manager, as well as the traffic manager when needed. He was known for his sense of humor, Photoshop talent, as well as his musical talent and musical trivia knowledge. Dave plays both the guitar and ukulele and he played in a band years ago. Some of Dave’s favorite singers include the Doobie Brothers and John Denver. Dave not only retired, but he and his family moved to South Carolina to be closer to his four grandchildren. We thank Dave for his dedication and service and we wish him and his wife Cheri a long, happy and healthy retirement!
ongratulations to Paul Wakely on his recent retirement. Paul has been the Foundry Superintendent at Benton Foundry since 2011. Prior to joining Benton, Paul worked in plant manager roles in several foundries including Neelon, Citation and Grede. Paul plans on spending more time with his family, including his children and grandchildren. He might even work part-time for his wife.
Good luck and congratulations Paul!
ongratulations to Matt Lobos on his recent retirement. Matt has been at Benton Foundry for 19 ½ years as a Quality Engineer. Thank you, Matt, for all the years of hard work and loyal service. Prior to Benton, Matt had worked in several other foundries around the country since 1985 and had accumulated 38 years of foundry experience. Unbeknownst to Matt, he was “recruited” in 2003 from Gould
Matt plans to spend his retirement doing outside activities like hiking, canoeing, fishing, and pheasant hunting with his wife Caroline and her dog Benson (Ben for short). Matt also plans to catch up on his reading and continue to support the town of Elysburg with community service. We wish Matt and his wife Caroline, a long, happy and healthy retirement.
Enjoy your retirement as you all make this transition from the many years of early mornings, hard work and dedication to enjoying more free time and leisure. We wish you all many years of good health and happiness.
Enjoy Your Retirement!
Awesome Job to Brittany Masakowski for pursuing new endeavors in the Maintenance Department.
Good Job to Tim Shepherd for covering duties in both the Molding and Grinding Departments.
Congratulations to Ray Campbell and Ryan Keeler completing their Assistant Manager training for the Melt Department..
Awesome Job to Xenia Ponce for handling all Ductile Iron duties in the lab on Mondays and Tuesdays..
Good Job to Stanley Trojan for being among the top five AFS (e-learning) students in the month of November.
Good Job to Jim Tumolo for being among the top five AFS (e-learning) students in the month of December.
Congratulations to Cody Snyder for passing the PE Metallurgical and Materials exam.
Awesome Job to Harry Fry for helping with the new welding process. Harry has picked it up very quickly and is doing quality work, at a good pace.
Good Job to Kyle Hall for his ongoing work/analysis on the sand system.
Congratulations to Aaron McHenry for successfully completing Spanish in the Workplace Level I.
Congratulations to the following personnel for their 4th Quarter 2023 performance.
Otilia Miranda – Highest Core Operator Efficiency
Myriam Mayorga – Highest Assembly Efficiency
David Straub – Highest Molding Efficiency
Jose Jesus Martinez Garcia – Highest Grinding Efficiency
Gilberth Mayorga – Highest Foxall Running Time
Awesome Job to Gilberth, Myriam and David for their continued consistency in achieving top performance levels.
Good Job to the Melt Department for your continued efforts to improve some quality metrics.
Congratulations on a job well done to David Buma Jr., Tim Schechterly Jr., Nicolas Wilson and Gabe Keller for a good semester, as part of our apprenticeship program.
Congratulations to Kyle Hall for a job well done. Kyle is attending Wilkes University for his Masters in Engineering Management.
Our sincere condolences go out to the family of Shawn Nevel.
hawn worked in our Molding and Melt Departments for over 25 years. He was a loyal and dedicated employee. Shawn most recently was a Machine Operator in our Molding Department. Shawn also served as a supervisor in the Melt Department on 2nd
Shawn is one of our honored vets for his service in the US Navy. Shawn served during Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Shawn received numerous awards and medals for his service. He was an active member of VFW, Post 821 of Berwick where he served as Post honor guard.
Shawn lived in Mifflinville with his wife Crystal. Shawn has two daughters, Olivia and Grace, a grandson Lincoln and a nephew Carter. He was an avid sportsman, enjoying hunting and fishing. Shawn was also an avid collector of vinyl records, a music enthusiast and he enjoyed spending time with his family.
Shawn was well liked by all and he will be missed. Shawn passed on January 1, 2024.
ussel Kinnel, Director of Manager Research and Editor for Morningstar FundInverstor delivers his Thrilling 33 Funds feature article. The 33 Funds are considered Russel’s idea of the best 33 Mutual Funds, by this criteria. Please note that 7 American Funds made his Thrilling 33 and 5 of the 7 American Funds are in Benton Foundry’s 401K fund choices. We have 128 participating employees in our 401K.
Russel Kinnel uses a strict screening to narrow about 15,000 funds down to a short list. He is choosy and sets high standards for a fund to make the cut. He emphasizes fees, the Morningstar Medalist Rating, long-term performance and fund company quality. He doesn’t use funds with a Morningstar Risk rating of High, Russel says “investors have a hard time using the most volatile funds well.” Following, please find some bullet points from Russel’s recent article.
- Expense ratio in the Morningstar Category’s cheapest quintile. (Russel used the prospectus adjusted expense ratio.)
- Manager investment of more than $1 million of his own money in the fund.
- Morningstar Risk rating lower than High.
- Morningstar Medalist Rating of Bronze or higher.
- Parent Fund Pillar rating better than Average.
- Returns greater than the fund’s category benchmark over the manager’s tenure for a minimum of five years.
- No funds of funds.
- Funds must be rated by Morningstar analysts.
- This did not include the Target Date Funds through 2065, that Benton Foundry offers. These Target Date Funds automatically change your investment mix. It is a convenient way to manage your 401K money.
- The best outcome is investing in funds with good growth over a number of years early in your career, so the wonders of compounding work to your advantage.
The five American Funds that made Russel’s list, that are available in Benton Foundry’s 401K are the following funds – showing the balance in that fund as of December 31, 2023.
|American Funds American Balanced Fund A (ABALX)
|American Funds American Mutual Fund A (AMRMX)
|American Funds Capital Income Bldr (CAIBX)
|American Funds Growth Fund of America A (AGTHX)
|American Funds New Perspective Fund A (ANWPX)
$1Billion – The amount of money generated by the sale of hunting licenses in the U.S. last year.
4.8% – The percent of the U.S. population registered as hunters.
7.5% – The percent of the U.S. population that registered as hunters in 1968.
Hunters are extremely important to wildlife management across the country.
Who were our top five customers in 1975?
Answer will be in 1st Quarter 2024.
Answer from 3rd Quarter question: What family has provided the most Benton Foundry employees through the years?
The Green Family
Photo credit: SB SmartBlogger
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
~Vincent Van Gogh