The story of Performance Castings is one of commitment to Erie – in more ways than one.
The company, which specializes in iron castings, has been operating at East 16th Street in the city of Erie since 1988, when it emerged from the bankruptcy of Erie Castings.
Owner Steve Konzel committed to continuing that history when he purchased the business just over two years ago. Konzel, who is an Erie native, says he was looking for an opportunity to stay and make a livelihood in his hometown – and Performance Castings offered that chance.
Today, he is working to make sure that Performance Castings continues to provide that livelihood not just for his family, but for his employees.
Part of that means making sure that his work stays diversified, he says.
Performance Castings makes parts for a variety of industries, as part of a concerted effort to withstand downturns in any one sector. So if, for example, the federal government cuts spending, Performance Castings won’t be devastated by losing some work for the Defense Department. Or if the oil and gas industry falters (as it did in recent years), then the company can rely on business from other sectors to weather the storm.
Today, that means that there a variety of parts for a variety of industries – including mining, oil and gas, sewer and drain, commercial valve, rail, heavy equipment, logging and more – coming out of the East 16th Street foundry.
The foundry is located in a historic building and follows a well-established manufacturing process, but this company clearly has an eye on the future as well as a respect for the past.
About Performance Castings: Performance Castings, which has around 20 employees, manufactures iron castings, from the initial steps of weighing and mixing materials to form alloys through to shipping the finished products to clients. One interesting aspect of the company’s work is how it has been affected by technology. Thanks to remote capabilities and 3D printing, foundries such as Performance Castings now can do business with customers across the country – whereas in the past, it would have been limited to companies located just down the street.
Why Erie County: For Konzel, Erie County is home, and that’s where he chose to plant his roots. But from a logistics standpoint, Erie County also ready access to the raw materials needed to operate his business.
Challenges of Erie County: The biggest challenge that Konzel has faced has been finding workers. He readily admits that the work isn’t always easy or glamorous, but it is a paycheck with benefits – and one that offers opportunities for further training and advancement. He has had some luck hiring recent refugees that have been resettled in Erie, and is always eager to find employees who are willing to be conscientious and hard working. Konzel also says that another challenge facing his industry comes in disparities in foreign trade – the different costs of doing business that can create an uneven playing field for businesses such as his.
Address: 242 E 16th St, Erie, PA 16503
Coming up next week: We learn about Verify Services in Waterford.