When you’re a foundry located in Beaumont, Texas, it’s to be expected that you’ll pursue contracts with the petrochemical industry. But when you’ve been around for 82 years and have seen other businesses suffer for concentrating on a single industry, you learn the importance of diversification.
“And that’s exactly what we’ve done,” says Jeff Freeman, who is vice president of sales for Mabry Castings. “While we do a lot of work with oil and gas companies, we’re also involved in the agricultural, automotive aftermarket, marine, valve and pump, machine tool, and construction/mining markets. And one of our major thrusts right now is to expand on the work we do in the gear manufacturing industry.”
Founded by Claude Mabry in 1925 — and now with 120,000 square feet of space and 47 employees — the company is located on 28 acres, so it’s well positioned to expand in order to meet its customer’s demands. And that’s definitely a possibility, in light of the growth it has experienced in recent years. Freeman credits this, in part, to its embrace of lean manufacturing, as well as the fact that it is able to make most deliveries within four weeks or less. Mabry’s ISO 9001:2000 certification is also a plus, “because that allows us to have conversations with potential customers that we wouldn’t be having otherwise,” he says. “And we’re very competitive in terms of our pricing, as well. I always tell people that while we may not be the least expensive guy on the street, we’re not the most expensive either. And when you factor in our longevity, the quality of our work, and our quick delivery time, that makes our whole package very attractive.”
The quality Freeman mentions is achieved in a number of ways, one being that the company has its own certified metallurgist on staff. “Our metallurgist is also our technical director, and he’s in charge of our sand laboratory where we conduct testing as part of our value-added approach to doing business,” he says. “We also have a spectrograph on site, so that we can analyze everything from the raw materials to the finished part, and we test every ladle of iron we produce and keep the records on file for a minimum of seven years.”
Quality is also assured by the oversight of Eddie Hall, the company’s operations manager. Having joined Mabry Castings in 1982, he has held a number of positions that have provided him with a singular insight into the company’s activities. “I went to work here in the core room before moving into shipping and receiving,” he says. “Then I worked in purchasing, and then quality control, so I’m pretty well-rounded in terms of my background with the company.”
During those 25 years he’s seen a number of major changes, the first involving the company’s purchase by one organization in 1994, and then by the Advanced Metals Group in 1999. More importantly, however, was its shift toward producing more technical types of castings in the early eighties. “Within three or four years of my joining the company we’d gained a foothold in the pump and valve industry, and we also landed the contract to produce all the castings required for the renovation of the cable-car system in San Francisco,” he says. “So that raised our profile and changed the nature of the kind of work we were doing. And that’s really when our efforts at diversification took hold.”
Although it specializes in gray and ductile iron castings, Freeman says that as a member of the Advanced Metals Group — with sister companies including U.S. Castings, Peerless Foundry, Oberdorfer, Ross Aluminum Castings, Robinson Foundry, and the Belcher Corp. — Mabry Castings is in a position to offer gateway services to its customers. “That relationship allows us to talk about a wide variety of materials, including aluminum, so that we can meet their needs whatever their requirements are,” he says. “It makes us that much stronger, in terms of the capabilities we can offer.”
Those offers are made in a very personalized way, since the company doesn’t work through sales representatives. “I attend about 18 trade shows each year, and we exhibit in five or six of them, so I spend a lot of time meeting new people and learning about their company’s needs,” Freeman says. “And I always tell them that when I say something will happen, it will happen, because I’m directly responsible for making sure it does. If they need me to visit their facility, I’ll be glad to do so, because it’s important for them to know we’re taking a personal interest in their business.”
As for what Mabry Castings has to offer gear manufacturers, Freeman says it’s quite simple. “We’ve spent 82 years building our reputation, and we maintain that by always living up to our customer’s expectations.”
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