March 2018 Meeting

Our March meeting visited Blacksburg, VA again this year. This is always a great meeting because on top of our incredible speakers we also have the chance to interact with the AFS Student Chapter at VA Tech. The students are eager to tell us about the projects they are working on and get to know many of the industry members that come to this meeting. If you missed the meeting, you missed a great opportunity to meet, and possibly hire, great young talent. *Note: Names highlighted in blue contain links to the presentations that were given.

This meeting focused on preparing for the upcoming silica regulations that go into effect June of this year. John Brown, of IAC, spoke on new baghouse technology and then Anthony Deluca, of Unimin spoke on silica sand itself and some recent improvements being made in that industry. Pete Satre, from Allied Mineral, gave a great talk about both silica and non-silica refractories, and Glenn Honeycutt of Charlotte Pipe & Foundry spoke on the new silica regulation itself.

After lunch Bryon Owens, of Tyler Union Foundry, spoke to us about what they have done at their foundry in order to prepare for the upcoming regulations. Jeff Krause from HA International followed with a talk about shellsand and coldbox resins. Libby Rider of Graham White gave us an update from FEF and we finished off the afternoon with VTFIRE students presenting some of the projects they have been working on.

During dinner we awarded our annual VTFIRE scholarships. This year was amazing! There was a total of $25,000 given away to 17 students. A few students received multiple awards. It is encouraging to see so much talent so enthusiastic about joining our industry. If you have not been to our meeting in Blacksburg, VA before, you definitely need to make plans to come next time! On top of recognizing those that are about to join our industry, we also recognize those that have come before us. After the scholarship presentations, we recognized all of our past chairmen of the Piedmont Chapter.

Scholarship group .jpg

On Thursday morning we finished our meeting with a tour of Federal Mogul. This facility manufactures bimetal bearings. These primarily include the main bearings in automotive engines. They cast their own aluminum strips, then adhere the aluminum and steel strips together with a very impressive process. The tour was amazing and we want to thank Steve LaPlante and Niven Monsegue for a very in depth and informative tour of their facility.

September 2017 Chapter Meeting

The AFS Piedmont Chapter kicked off the 2017-18 year with a meeting in Asheville, NC. We had a morning of technical talks about internships, working with generational differences, and a panel that discussed a variety of topics including drug testing, employee hiring and retaining, increasing moral, and training new hires. That afternoon we held our annual golf fundraiser and finished the day with dinner where Paul Huffman talked to us about fundraising efforts for VTFIRE. Thursday morning we toured Current by GE, which was an impressive tour. Overall it was a great meeting!


We would like to send a special Thank You to all of our speakers. Ellen Steele of Western Carolina Industries, Alan Williams of Continental Tevis, Sissy Rogers of SELEE Corporation, Cindi Brooks of Ingles, and Tamara Edwards of MB Haynes. Each of you gave valuable insight into many issues that we all face in our companies. It was great to get different perspectives from various industries about the same issues that effect us all. Thank you all so much, I know everyone learned something that they could take back to their business.

Thursday morning we took a tour of Current by GE in Hendersonville, NC. This facility, which is ranked in the top 9 of over 600 GE Plants worldwide, produces LED lighting for various outdoor applications including parking lots, roadways, stadium lighting, and parking garages. The assembly process was very streamlined and lean and the circuit board building equipment was impressive to watch. Thank you so much Dave Martin and David George for a very detailed and welcoming tour of your facility.


We hoped everyone enjoyed our September meeting and we look forward to seeing you all in Southern Pines, NC in November!



Mattie LaPrade Starts VA Tech AFS Student Chapter

The Piedmont Chapter would like to recognize Mattie LaPrade for her outstanding efforts in the creation of the AFS Student Chapter at Virginia Tech University. During her tenure at Virginia Tech, Mattie worked to create a stand alone student chapter of AFS at the University. Previously, the student involvement with AFS was conducted through the larger MEPS (Materials Engineering Professional Societies), which contains many other student affiliated professional society groups. By creating a stand alone AFS Student Chapter, the meetings that are held will be able to be more focused on the foundry industry. This was a large undertaking and Mattie did a wonderful job leading the effort and fulfilling the role as the chapters first chairman. She also made sure to set up the next group of students to run the chapter now that she has graduated. Very impressive Mattie!


March 2017 Meeting

The March Meeting was held in Blacksburg, Virginia at the Kroehling Advanced Materials Foundry, home of VT FIRE. There were a total of 10 student presentations on topics including the status of the Virginia Tech Student Chapter, Foundry in a Box, Casting Competitions, and Senior Design Projects. The morning presentations were followed by a VT FIRE Advisory board meeting.


At dinner, we were joined by 20 VT FIRE students. The FEF Executive Director, Brian Lewis, spoke on the importance of educating and support students during their academic career and entrance into the foundry industry. Paul Huffman and Alan Druschitz then presented 16 scholarships to 13 students, totaling $15,750. This year was the largest number of scholarships awarded in VT FIRE history. We hope to continue to see the program grow and become even more recognized throughout the nation.

January 2017 Chapter Meeting

The Piedmont Chapter held its January Meeting in Athens, GA this year. We had a great turnout! Our technical session on Wednesday morning was focused around the new Silica rule. Trent Blake and Tom Smith started the morning off with a great talk about how facilities should collect their data as they look to make sure they are compliant. Matt Diestler followed them by giving some good examples of engineering control options to become compliant. Robert Vazzi came in from OSHA to explain the new standard some and help us understand better what is actually expected of foundries. And capping off the technical session was Joe Muniza and his discussion on ways to possibly eliminate some consumables that use silica. All of the talks were very informative and helpful and led to some great discussions. Thank you very much to all of our speakers for taking the time to come speak with us.

The afternoon continued with a tour and tasting at the local Creature Comforts Brewery. Just a few blocks from the meeting everyone was able to get a pint glass and taste many of the different brews on tap and then get a tour of the whole facility. It was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon with all our friends in the chapter.

During our evening reception Stephanie Salmon from the AFS Office of Government Affairs talked to us about what is going on in Washington DC, especially regarding the new Silica Standard. There has been a lot of changes in the federal government since the last election, so getting to hear from Stephanie often will keep us informed as to what is happening. There is a lot going on with the new silica rule and we are all interested in how things unfold. This new rule could have big implications to our industry.

Thursday morning we toured TACG (Toyota Automotive Compressors of Georgia). What an impressive facility. Between the die casting machines and the assembly lines, TACG can put out one compressor every 13 seconds. It was a wonderful tour and I believe everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. Special thanks to TACG for accommodating us with this tour.

Once again Athens, GA fails to disappoint as a great meeting location. Next on the schedule will be our annual meeting in Blacksburg, VA. Our March meeting is always a crowd favorite as we get to spend a lot of time with the students at Virginia Tech and see all they are working on there. We will see you in Blacksburg on March 1-2, 2017!

Randy Bickel


It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Randy Bickel. Randy was a past chairman of the AFS Piedmont chapter and will be deeply missed. Our sincerest condolences go out to all of his family and friends. Click Here to read Randy's obituary.

September 2016 Chapter Meeting

The 2016-17 year kicked off with our chapter meeting in Clemson, SC. Tim Butler gave a great talk about automatic grinder and Howard Rhett gave us a very informative background into 3D sand printing for molds and cores. Following the talks was a wonderful afternoon on the golf course.

During our reception, Paul Huffman and Adam Humphrys gave an outstanding demonstration of our new Foundry in a Box set up. Using an induction hot plate and a bismuth-tin alloy, the setup allows students to make a coin while learning about induction melting and the casting process. It will be a great learning tool!

Thursday morning we finished our meeting with a tour of the Clemson Football Athletic Facilities. George Bennett took us through the locker room, fitness center, recruiting office, and the top floor of the West Endzone. It was a great tour with some great stories.

We look forward to seeing you all at our November meeting in Pinehurst, NC. Check back for the latest updates!

May 2016 Chapter Meeting

The Piedmont Chapter held its May meeting in Waynesville, NC on May 19th and 20th. As per our usual tradition, the May meeting began with golf. The overcast weather provided for a cool day and the rain held off long enough for each team to finish. In the end the team of Rick Torrence, Mike Hall, Greg Southerland, and Dave Williams won the Captains Choice Tournament. Congratulations guys, well done!

Thursday night continued with our annual chapter meeting in which Mike Looby concluded his tenure as chairman and passed the title onto Joe Whiteside. Thank you Mike for all your hard work this year!

Friday began, and quickly ended, with the Roy Eggleston Memorial Golf Tournament. Unfortunately the weather did not hold out as it had on Thursday. Rain showers ended the tournament early. The meeting was then concluded with a wonderful luncheon ahead of schedule.

This meeting concluded the 2015-16 calendar year for the Piedmont Chapter. We will take the summer off in order to begin planning our next meetings. The 2016-17 year will kick off in September. We look forward to seeing everyone at our September meeting.

January 2016 Meeting

The Piedmont Chapter hosted its January Meeting in Augusta, GA on Jan. 20-21 this year. We had a great program and a great turnout. Our technical sessions focused around maintaining your equipment and keeping it running efficiently. We had discussions on furnaces, sand systems, and blast systems. I think we all can agree that the better your equipment operates, and the less time you have to spend focusing on them, the more high quality castings we can make. A special thank you to Robert Keshecki Jr, Pete Satre, Jason Yawn, and Perry Thomas for giving very informative talks for us.

During our dinner reception Kerri Thompson gave a great background talk about Textron Specialized Vehicles. This talk was a prelude for the tour we took on Thursday morning of EZGO and Cushman fabrication and assembly lines. The reception finished up with our annual recognition of the past chairman of the Piedmont Chapter. As always, thank you all so much for all you have done and continue to do for our chapter!

Thursday morning we toured part of Textron Specialized Vehicles. The tour took us through fabrication and assembly of EZGO golf carts and Cushman utility vehicles. Thank you so much to all 3 of our tour guides, Kerri Thompson, Carley Jones, and Brittany Sanders. It was a very informative and impressive tour. It is a great facility that appears focused on continuous improvement.

The Piedmont Chapter is hosting the 83rd Annual Southeastern Regional this year on March 2-4. We have a great event planned so if you haven't registered please do so quickly. Due to the timing of this event, we will not be scheduling a separate chapter meeting in March, instead our next Chapter meeting will be May 19-20 in Waynesville, NC. Hope to see you all there.

Mr. Joseph Samuel Whiteside Sr.

Piedmont Chapter members and friends,

We have some sad news to pass along to the chapter. Joe Whiteside Sr. passed away on Friday. Joe has been AFS Piedmont Chapter member for 52 years and served as Chairman in 1966 – 1967.

Please see the below obituary which was posted in the Charlotte Observer and Greensboro Daily News. 


Obituary for Mr. Joseph Samuel Whiteside Sr.

Joseph Samuel Whiteside, Sr., 84, husband of Ida Ruth Nall Whiteside, of 2 Captain Lane, Salem passed away on Friday, November 27, 2015 in Robbins, NC.
A native of Greensboro, NC, Mr. Whiteside was the son of the late John F. and Clara Irene Nance Whiteside. He was a graduate of Bessemer High School. Mr. Whiteside was retired as General Manager from Porter Warner Industries in Richburg, SC. He was a Veteran having served in the United States Marine Corps; he was a member of the Marine Corps League and in years past had helped head up the local Toys for Tots in Oconee County. He was a member of the Oasis Masonic Lodge in Greenville and was past chairman and fifty-year member of the American Foundry Society. Mr. Whiteside was a member of Utica Baptist Church in Seneca.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Whiteside is survived by his son: Joseph Samuel Whiteside, Jr. of Snellville, GA; daughter: Vanessa Gail Whiteside of Atlanta, GA; six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, sister: Grace Ann Byrd.
In addition to his parents, Mr. Whiteside was preceded in death by brothers: Jack Whiteside and Robert Whiteside.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 P. M. on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at Utica Baptist Church with entombment to follow at Oconee Memorial Park Mausoleum, Seneca, SC with full military honors.
The family will receive friends from 6:00 – 8:00 P. M. on Monday, November 30, 2015 at Davenport Funeral Home in West Union, SC.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Utica Baptist Church, 4056 Wells Highway, Seneca, SC 29678 or Toy for Tots, Lewis G. Watkins Detachment #1131, P.O. Box 8025, Seneca, SC 29678.

November 2015 Meeting

The Piedmont AFS Chapter held their November 2015 meeting in Roanoke, VA on November 18th and 19th. The morning session included two talks from industry professionals, and the afternoon session was full of talks from students in the VTFIRE program at VA Tech. Ed Boyd gave us an update of what is going on lately with AFS National during our dinner, and Libby Ryder gave us an excellent tour of Graham White Foundry the next morning. Congratulations to all of the students at VA Tech that were awarded scholarships after our dinner, we hope to see all of you in the foundry industry after graduation! We would like to thank all of our speakers and students for your time and participation in this meeting. We look forward to seeing everyone at our January meeting in Augusta, GA on Jan 20-21, 2016. Have a great holiday season everyone!

January 2015 Meeting

The Piedmont AFS Chapter held their January 2015 meeting in Athens, GA on January 21st and 22nd.  The meeting topic was "Keys to Improving Your Furnace Refractory Lining Life".  During the morning technical session the following talks were presented to 52 of the chapter's members and guests.

  • "Improved Repair Material for Extending Furnace Life" - Jonathan Nguyen, United Refractories Co.
  • "Safely Optimizing Inductor Life" - Pat Leper, Saveway USA Corp.
  • "Coreless Furnaces: Seven Steps to Maximizing Refractory Lining Performance" - Pete Satre, Allied Mineral Products, Inc.
  • "An Engineered Method For Installing Refractory In Coreless Furnaces" - Ayton Grady, Gradmatic Equipment Inc.
  • "Analysis and Early Identification of Lining Failures" - Pat Leper, Saveway USA Corp

After the morning technical session meeting attendees had the opportunity to take a tour of the Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, GA.

The evening dinner was held and speaker Jim Frost of ACIPCO delivered an excellent talk on the Foundry Education Foundation (FEF).  

Chapter Chairman Donald McLain (L) presents Jim Frost (R) with a Speakers award

Chapter Chairman Donald McLain (L) presents Jim Frost (R) with a Speakers award

The following day meeting attendees toured TICA- Toyota Industries Compressor Parts America Co. in Pendergrass, GA.  The chapter would like to thank TICA for an excellent tour of their foundry.

Barney Bain (L) receives a tour award from Chapter Vice Chairman Mike Looby (R)

Barney Bain (L) receives a tour award from Chapter Vice Chairman Mike Looby (R)

The Piedmont Chapter thanks all of our speakers and attendees for helping to make this meeting a success.  We invite you to join us for our next meeting in Blacksburg, VA on March 18th and 19th.