The well-worn colloquialism, “Think Global, Act Local,” has been around for over 100 years. Different groups such as city planners, environmentalists, and even corporations have adopted the expression to encourage behavior and describe their engagement philosophy. The underlying message is that it is important to have a long term or big picture goal, but action needs to take place where you live to impact true change.
It’s a message worth viewing through a metalcaster’s lens. Which goals, causes, and issues are important to you, and what are you doing to work towards them? If you have a specific goal related to your work in the metalcasting industry, you should “act local” by getting involved with your regional AFS chapter.
If you are looking to network, find a mentor, or even a protégé, a group of area foundry men and women should be your first stop. Most AFS chapters hold regular events throughout the year, and every single one offers an opportunity to meet new people, many of which understand your work and the challenges you face daily. You would be hard pressed to find anyone discussing defect analysis or scrap rates at the local VFW.
Are you passionate about engaging the next generation of foundry professionals and getting them to join our industry? Or maybe you’re grateful for a successful metalcasting career and you want to pay it forward but don’t know where to start? AFS chapters are a terrific method for doing both. Chapters often do community engagement and outreach with foundry in a box demonstrations at schools and civic events to introduce young people to metalcasting. As an engagement tool, there is nothing with more “cool factor” than showing kids how they can work with both their hands and their minds to create something unique and durable.
In addition to reaching out to young students and introducing them to metalcasting, chapters are a great place to meet, support and recruit students in advanced programs at colleges and universities, many of which have their own AFS student chapter. Regional AFS chapters work with these students and their programs to provide scholarships, project materials, and internship opportunities over the summer. With a strong job market and a mass exodus of the boomer generation over the next decade, all companies could benefit from forging relationships like these early on. Doing so through your AFS chapter is a smart and efficient way to make these connections with graduating students.
If you are frustrated with environmental regulations, taxes, lack of investment in infrastructure and workforce development programs, you can amplify your voice and your impact by working through a regional AFS chapter. Chapters often engage with their local, state, and federal elected representatives, to educate them on the issues impacting metalcasters. We often lose sight of the fact that these representatives do not have a fully formed opinion on every issue, and moreover do not always have all the facts to support their opinions. Some of them are new to office and unfamiliar with how foundries operate, what they make, and where they fit in the manufacturing supply chain. If you want to get their attention, have them meet a group of foundry professionals, all of whom share the same perspective.
Professional development is another great reason to attend chapter meetings as they frequently have presentations on a wide variety of topics that include technical knowledge, management strategies and industry best practices. Not every meeting will work for every individual, but there is a good chance you know someone who should attend different meetings based on the subject matter. The key aspect here is that you and your fellow team members can gain some valuable, timely insight, usually within driving distance of your home.
Another way to expand your perspective locally with your AFS chapter is the fact that meetings sometimes include a plant tour of a fellow member, an OEM, or a local school program. Getting outside of your own bubble and seeing how other people operate is a great way to stimulate new ideas that you can institute in your facility.
In short, you need to keep sight of that goal, cause or issue because it’s important to you, but don’t forget that thinking big picture, or “global” as the saying goes, is only one half of the equation. To advance your interests, you need to engage with your “local” peers at an AFS Chapter, because the odds are very good they are already a step ahead of you, whatever your interests may be.