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Forged by Fire

September 23, 2019

A Foundry Finds Resilience and Commitment in the Face of Adversity

On June 1, 2018, more than 100 years of history seemed to go up in a flash. That’s the day Donsco Inc., a family-owned foundry in southeastern Pennsylvania, suffered a devastating fire.

No one was injured in the fire, but the Wrightsville foundry was completely damaged. Reported as one of the city’s largest fire losses in history, Donsco faced a long road to stabilize its operations and totally rebuild its Wrightsville foundry. As a single-source provider of machined iron castings, the company operates two foundries—the second in Mount Joy—to produce short-run and longer-running gray, ductile, and alloyed iron castings up to 150 pounds.

With more than 330 employees, Donsco is a major employer in the town along the Susquehanna River, and it supports other, smaller businesses. Brothers Art Mann Jr., President, and Don Mann, Executive Vice President, remain steadfast to their family’s business and commitment to the area—to rebuild, keep momentum behind the town, and make it a better place.

The Long Road to Recovery

Donsco’s employees eagerly await the foundry in Wrightsville to come online by late spring this year. Employees have worked long hours for fire clean up, restoring the foundry to typical operations, and managing workflow before reopening. It will look different, with translucent fiberglass walls that allow natural light to filter in and create a glow at night. And the physical structure isn’t all that has transformed after the fire.

Through many long hours and tedious processes, the Donsco team managed to outsource its client work to six other foundries. With the help of business interruption insurance, they kept payroll going for employees; the employees’ skills, talents, and sustained loyalty are vital to the foundry’s success. They’ve maintained sales, which required incredible coordination and support on behalf of Donsco’s customers and competitor foundries that took on production. The entire Donsco team is looking forward to the foundry being back online—and restoring their commitment to quick client response and short lead times.

> A new network. In the face of losing clients, Donsco’s leadership built relationships with other foundries, creating an informal network to support the workload should another fire occur. These foundries now have a contingency plan should they ever face major disruption.

> Clear communication and support. Throughout the process, Art Mann Jr. says he was reassured by the support from other foundries, from the insurance company, and from Donsco’s commercial bank, Sterling National Bank. “Even through friendly competition with other foundries, people want to help you succeed,” Mann says.

> Stable working relationships. In the process of managing clients, outsourcing work, and rebuilding, Mann says it’s been a relief to have a supportive relationship with Sterling.

“Since the beginning of our relationship, Sterling has understood our business and where we have value. They’ve worked with us to figure out what financing we need and how to structure it,” Mann says. “After the fire, they made us feel comfortable and enabled us to focus on the rebuild.”

A Focus on Manufacturing

Founded in 1906, Donsco remained with one bank until fall 2017 when they looked for a different financing arrangement. Head of Finance Dennis Atkinson and President Art Mann Jr. were attracted to Sterling National Bank’s asset-based lending, financing that is key for a capital-intensive business like the foundry. Asset-based lending provides more leverage and opportunity to look for expansion and investment for crucial equipment and upgrades.

“Donsco is an asset-heavy company, with equipment, inventory, and real estate,” Mann says. “Sterling understands manufacturing, our valuable assets, and the cyclical industry, and they’re willing to work with us to rebuild.”

After the fire in June 2018, Atkinson contacted their Sterling Relationship Manager, Laurel Varney, Senior Vice President of Asset-Based Lending. It was going to be a tedious process to rebuild, and Sterling was eager to help through the journey. Varney and her team made recommendations to get through the rebuilding process, including bringing in a forensic insurance accounting team.

“Sterling has been a great to work with and extremely supportive of Donsco through this time,” Atkinson says. “They’ve been with us every step of the way. We’re so close to the finish line for the redesign and rebuilding that will allow Donsco to operate with greater efficiency.”

Learn more about Donsco's relationship with Sterling.