Pa. company's future hinges on casting

July 31, 2000

Pa. company's future hinges on casting

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

casting hingesGREENCASTLE, Pa. - Man has been casting metal since the Bronze Age and the work is being carried on today in Future Cast Inc., a small, modern foundry that opened at 151 N. Washington St. fewer than two years ago.

Owners Kevin Kirsch and Tom Hansell are planning to double their work force to 30 workers to keep up with a booming customer demand for the type of precision castings their foundry produces.

The partners, in their late 30s, are Lebanon County, Pa., natives. They were managing a foundry in Texas when they decided, "one night over a couple of beers that it was time to strike out on our own," Hansell said.


"We had been doing it for somebody else long enough," Kirsch said.

"There was nowhere else to go," Hansell said. "We just shook hands and said 'we're gonna do it.'"

They were aware of Franklin County because Kirsch's family had a hunting camp in the area. They also wanted to be close to a labor source. They leased 13,000 square feet of space and opened up the shop in October 1998.

They began by working side-by-side with their skilled and unskilled workers and continue to do so today.

L. Michael Ross, executive director of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation, helped the partners secure the federal, state and local government and private bank loan package to start their business.

"We put everything we had on the line to start this," Hansell said.

Business has boomed and now they need more workers to keep up with it. The company pays for all benefits. Wages begin at $7.25 an hour and go to $14, depending on skill and time on the job.

"We pay as much as we can. We know what it's like to work for low pay," Kirsch said.

Hansell and Kirsch met while both worked in a foundry in Lebanon County when they were in their early 20s. They ended up working together in foundries for more than 14 years, including their last job in Texas.

The partners hope to top $4 million in sales by the end of their second fiscal year in June 2001. This year's sales are close half that, Kirsch said.

"We doubled our sales in the last six months, that's why we need more people."

Their biggest current contract calls for 120,000 sets of stainless steel door hinges for the federal prison system.

The company's furnaces can cast anything from carbon, low alloy and stainless steel to a dozen other alloys, including, chrome , nickel, brass and bronze through a casting method called the lost-wax process, a technology as old as the ages.

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