Owner of the Penticton Foundry had this to say about being chosen as Business of the Year: “To me, this is a win for the whole company – all 80 of us,” said president and general manager Brian Bendig. “It’s a validation of how hard everyone works, how we strive to be different in our industry, and how we continue to grow and thrive.”
The company is the North American producer of castings, a product that Bendig admitted most people don’t know a lot about, but is an integral to the functioning of many industries and a part of people’s daily lives.
He admitted being surprised at winning the award, considering they have no customers
in the Okanagan Valley. When people tour the foundry they are always surprised by the depth of the operation and the product being manufactured.
Bendig said an essential part of building and maintaining a successful business is the efforts they’ve made for the company to be a great employer.
“It may surprise people to read that we are B.C.’s largest foundry,” he said. “We know that the number one key to having a successful business is people. There are companies all around the world that make foundry equipment.
Anyone can buy this equipment, install it, and try to operate a foundry. “What makes us successful is having such excellent people.
Most of the staff has been working at the foundry for anywhere between 10 and 40 years and this has helped to foster and maintain the knowledge, wisdom and work ethic for a staff which Bendig noted is second to none.
The foundry’s history goes back to 1939, when the Wilkins Machine Shop and Foundry was
opened in downtown Penticton, adjacent to city hall. Employees melted metal using a cupola furnace and produced castings for the war effort and the shipbuilding industry.
The turning point for the foundry came in 1951 when owner Cliff Wilkins sold the business to Ray O’Neill and Harry Hughes at which time it became more active, hired more people and started producing municipal castings (manhole frames and covers) for the Okanagan Valley. It changed ownership in 1973 when O’Neill bought out Hughes and renamed the company Peach City Foundry. In 1976 the O’Neills built a new foundry in the industrial area of Penticton, installing a modern, coreless induction melting system and a no-bake moulding system.
In 1981, it was renamed Penticton Foundry Ltd. After being purchased a couple years earlier by The Dobney Foundry Group. In 1984 the foundry moved to its present location, an 80,000-square-foot building in the city’s industrial area.
More than nine million pounds of scrap metal are recycled there each year.
“We constantly work to make equipment improvements and investments, which keep us competitive with the rest of the world. We strive to make continuous improvements to processes throughout the plant. We have developed our own product that has revolutionized the abrasive-wear problems faced by many very big companies in the mineral processing industries.”
“As our slogan says, we are ‘Anchored in Community – Fueled by Innovation.’”
Locally, the foundry has been a supporter of community initiatives such as Penticton
Regional Hospital’s new tower, South Okanagan Women In Need Society, OSNS Child Development Centre, Penticton Peach Festival, Be An Angel, Canadian Mental Health Association, and the new Community Foundation Youth Centre.