Jim Owen, Merrill Arbuckle, Bill Mack, and Val Aughney
made day trips to
vendors. The visits were to facilitate understanding
and promote positive relationships with key personnel
at AFFCO, Northwest Industrial, and Motion Industries.
The group first
traveled to AFFCO located in Anaconda, Montana.
AFFCO's facility resides in the original Anaconda
Copper Company Foundry. Don Clark, General Manager,
and Dave Bisch, Sales Manager, conducted a tour
of their metal fabricating business. The group
observed five pours for ore car wheels commissioned
by the Stillwater Mine in Nye, Montana. In another
storehouse was Trident's inert gas system tank
being dried after its distinctive green paint
The group was impressed
with the technical skills of AFFCO's work force.
From the mixing of metals in the lab, to the transportation
of molten metal as it was poured from swinging
crucibles overhead into mold, it was evident these
employees knew their stuff. A highlight of the
tour was observing two employees (long past retirement)
in the confines of their beautiful wood and brick
workroom, circa 1889. Stepping back in time, the
group watched them turn knotless pine from Oregon,
into wooden molds for the first step in the forging
process. This is a lost art, as explained by Don
and Dave, only a few individuals in this country
are still capable of this type of craftsmanship.
A patternmaker must invert every design and painstakingly
recreate it in wood. This was a complex idea for
us as outsiders. When our group mentioned the
use of computers we were told, "that computers
weren't there yet".
At one point, we
were amazed to find ourselves in a four-story
warehouse that stored every mold ever made by
AFFCO, from the very earliest days of Butte mining
history, truly a history buff's gold mine. One
large section on the first floor was dedicated
to Holnam patterns.
a valuable service to Holnam and the mining industry.
They produce and fabricate materials that Trident
can't do, nor anyone else in the area is capable
of, with their unique expertise. A valuable business
meeting preceded the tour in their company conference
Later in the month
the group traveled to Billings to visit two suppliers:
Northwest Industrial Supply, and Motion Industries.
The group had a tour of both facilities. Both
are major suppliers to Holnam, and the group familiarized
themselves with their warehouses and their business
They were warmly
received by these companies and feel these meetings
are an integral part of Holnam's way of doing
business. This group may continue to visit various
vendors, helping cement our business relationships.