The History of The Dalton Foundries, Inc.

Researched, complied & edited by Rodney G. Dalton from the World Wide Web.

The Warsaw Manufacturing Facility was founded in 1910 by Donald J. Dalton on Warsaw Indiana's west side, with 25 employees and one product - a home shoe repair kit. The foundry later moved to its present location 1924 and became incorporated as Dalton Foundries, Inc. in 1985, Dalton - Warsaw became an employee owned company. Warsaw expanded its customer base with the purchase of Newnam Manufacturing in 1992 and Stryker Machining in 1997. The company was then renamed Dalton Corporation.

However, it was not long before castings were being produced for other companies, and this soon became the major part of the business.

By 1913 more room was needed. The plant moved to the present location on East Jefferson Street. World War I saw the business engaged in the war effort and buildings were added to the plant.

In 1918 Sunderland Pump Company of Chicago was purchased and Big Boy Hand Air Pumps became one of our products.

In 1923 Mr. Dalton formed the Dalton Malleable Castings Company and added malleable castings to the existing line of gray iron castings. Later the same year the name Dalton Foundries, Inc. was adopted to include all activities. Business was expanded by adding customers whose names were well-known in American industry. In the 30's when many other businesses were failing, Dalton Foundries managed to keep the doors open. No Dalton employee was laid off due to the depression.

In 1940, the Conrad Jack Company was acquired.

World War II again saw Dalton Foundries keyed to the war effort, during the 40's all departments were expanded and new facilities were added. We made parts for bombs, mortar shells, gun mounts, marine valves, railroad castings, etc.

Upon the death of Mr. Donald J. Dalton in 1947, his son Bill headed the company until he passed away in 1952. Mr. Charles H. Ker became President and served in that capacity until 1959, at which time he was elected Chairman of the Board and W. M (Matt) Dalton became the President.

In 1959 the Endicott Church Furniture Company joined us as a subsidiary and in 1969 the first steel was poured at Dalton Precision in Cushing, Oklahoma, a new casting plant designed to produce quality castings in iron by the shell molding process.

Mr. Eugene E. Paul joined Dalton Foundries as President of the Corporation January 1, 1968. Mr. W. M. Dalton was elected Chairman of the Board and Mr. Charles H. Ker retired.

In 1968 plant improvements included installation of the Herman line and the Disamatic automatic molding line which went into production the latter part of 1972.

Sales brochure of 1938

Because heavy capital expenditures would be required to modernize the malleable facility, and as the market potential for malleable castings has been declining, the Malleable Foundry was be phased out on June 21, 1974.

In 1975, the second Disamatic was installed.

In 1976, installed Herman II. . . . We continued to expand until 1982 when we had the first major layoff in the company's history, due to business conditions. Dalton Precision operations closed and was placed for sale due to lack of business.

In 1985, the company was sold to the salaried employees under "Employee Stock Option Plan" (ESOP), and Kenneth Davidson was appointed President and CEO.

In 1989, we expanded the Core Room by 23,000 sq. ft. This expansion was made to give us enough room for least cost manufacturing techniques, improved environmental equipment, and safer working conditions.

In 1990, we phased out the Disamatic Foundry and started construction of a "State of the Art" large casting facility to better produce current Pallet Line jobs and attract new value added products. This year we acquired Newnam Manufacturing, Inc. a gray iron foundry in Kendallville, IN. . . .

In 1998, Dalton Corporation was acquired by Neenah Foundry Corporation which is a part of the ACP Holding Company.

Sales brochure of 1957

Improving productivity earns Dalton Foundries Senate award; By Kanicki, David P.

Date: Wednesday, January 1 1992

A multi-faceted, long-term program to improve productivity and quality earned this Indiana foundry the Senate's highest award.

When Dalton Foundries began its productivity push in the mid-1980s, having its efforts publicly recognized was not foremost in the company's thinking, Rather,

for the 121 management and clerical staff who purchased the gray iron foundry in 1985 through a leveraged employee stock owner-ship plan (ESOP), it was a matter of survival and profitability. They bet their jobs and retirements on the ESOP and knew they had a lot to lose if the buyout failed. They also realized they had much more to gain if it worked.

And work it has, perhaps even better than anyone could have guessed. By next year, the company will have paid off its debt and own the foundry free and clear. And its efforts didn't go unnoticed. At a ceremony held last fall, the Warsaw, Indiana, foundry was presented' the United States Senate's highest honor, its Productivity Award, by Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN).

The award recognizes organizations that are using a particularly effective productivity improvement technique, practice or process that can be adopted by other organizations as a means of improving national productivity.

The term "productivity" has been bandied about for years as the key to business competitiveness. Along with product quality, critics have charged that in order to compete in the global market, manufacturing in America will need to become more productive. Like many buzz words, productivity may be the most overused and least understood of them all.

For the purpose of the Senate Productivity Award, the term productivity is broadly interpreted to mean 'an organization's most efficient and effective use of the resources available to it to produce a high-quality product or perform a high-quality service at lowest cost. These resources include employee knowledge and labor, modern technology, raw materials, energy, plant and equipment, money and time."

Dalton takes a more formalized approach in clarifying the term. Larry Cohen, vice-president operations, explains: "Productivity is a measure of outputs to inputs. Inputs are converted into a product by customer demand in an environment structured by sociotechnical factors, market for the outputs, markets supplying inputs, and corporate strategies by means of a production process.'

The most important differences between the two definitions is the emphasis Dalton gives to customer needs, employee involvement and community relations. Today, the foundly's management believes, these are co-equal factors in the productivity and quality equation with technology and cost cutting. This is because they understood that simply investing in new equipment or slashing costs would not provide the long-term stability it was looking for. It would take a sincere desire to serve customers, an interest in employees and an understanding of the role the foundry played in the community.

Nearly everyone on the Dalton Foundries' management team can remember some less-than-positive instance that led the company to rethink its philosophies and attitudes toward employees, customers and the community. Cohen, for-example, recalls the bitter strike in 1979 that he says 'really hurt the company."

In trying to resolve the dispute, 10 management people and the local union officials made a trip to the United Steel Workers headquarters in Pennsylvania. 'Our whole purpose in making that trip was to ask Can we tear down the wall between management and labor? 'We came away with a commitment from both parties to work toward that end. That was the beginning of our employee involvement programs."

On the customer side, Ken Davidson, Dalton Foundries' president, retains a memory from many years ago when a couple of the company's representatives returned from settling a dispute with a customer and claimed victory. "Their attitude was We showed them!' We sure did," says Davidson. "We showed them to the point to where we lost all their business! It was obvious, we needed a new perspective when it came to dealing with our customers."

The neighborhood where the foundry is located presented another set of challenges. Founded in 1910, Dalton Foundries, like so many other older manufacturing concerns, watched the local community literally grow up around it. Kosciusko County, where the foundry is located, has become a resort area with beautiful lakes and attractive homes. The last things the foundry's Warsaw neighbors wanted were the noise or the "distinctive aroma" of a foundry. Cohen recalls that in 1984 "a group of citizens actually banded together to shut us down."

So when the Dalton family, decided to sell the company in 1985, they were approached about buying through the ESOP concept. And despite coming on the heels of one of the deepest manufacturing recessions in U.S. history, the business was profitable and its customer base stable. The risk of a leveraged buyout were obvious, but so were the benefits.

Almost as soon as the deal was struck, the new management team set out to develop a five-year plan centered directly on customer needs and in-house productivity.

Dalton's management team knew going in that for the ESOP to succeed it would have to commit itself totally to developing a globally competitive organization. Explains Pete Dudchenko, director of sales and marketing, "We have a vested interest in the success of this organization. Our company retirement program is based on the value of the company's stock. All of us as stockholders understand and do everything we can to satisfy our customers."

But management's commitment alone would not be enough. They had to demonstrate that Dalton Foundries was a class organization to do business with and to work for, they needed the commitment of their employees as well.

While from time to time Dalton had considered getting into ductile iron, it was determined that the best way to serve their customers was to specialize only in highly cored gray iron castings. Production today concentrates on medium to high-volume parts in the 5-700 lb range produced on their cope and drag lines using shell and cold box cores. The foundry's goal is to utilize its total 100,000 ton annual melting capacity.

Dalton's major markets include air conditioning, refrigeration, truck transmissions and diesel and marine engines. To assure the best customer service, the foundry has purposely maintained a narrow customer base.

Dalton foundry has had long history in Kendallville; Written by Dennis Nartker.

Saturday, 14 March 2009 00:00 - At times passers-by on South Main Street could see the fiery red, orange and yellow flames from the cupola furnace. The towering smokestack belches white smoke reminiscent of the 18th century industrial revolution in Europe. The 60-acre Dalton foundry (formerly Newnam foundry) complex on West Ohio Street oncer epresented the Kendallville area’s early industrial revolution, along with the Krueger Street Kendallville Foundry, Lane Foundry about a mile south of Kendallville and the McCray Refrigeration complex on McCray Court off North Main Street. The Kendallville Foundry, Lane Foundry and McCray Refrigeration facilities closed long ago. The rusted, deteriorating buildings still stand like symbols of Kendallville’s booming past where hundreds of workers toiled in dirty, dangerous surroundings to make parts for the automotive and appliance industries. Dalton foundry will soon join them, its huge furnace snuffed out, its machinery and equipment removed and sold, its structure torn down for scrap. The smaller Mahoney Foundry, 209 W. Ohio St., will be the only foundry operating in the Kendallville area. Friday is the last day for most of Dalton foundry’s almost 300 hourly and salaried employees as Kendallville’s last foundry closes. The plant will be completely closed down by April 3.Neenah Enterprises Inc. of Neenah, Wis., the foundry’s owner, announced on Dec. 9 the plant would close in March this year due to the pressure of an overall weak economy and the particularly difficult economic issues facing the foundry industry and manufacturing in general. The foundry makes gray iron castings for air conditioning, refrigeration, engine heads and other products. Mayor Suzanne

Handshoe described the closing as catastrophic. Leonard N. Hicks, president of Local 262 of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Planters & allied Workers Union for nearly 24 years, and a 40-year Dalton employee, called it a tragedy. Hicks, his wife, Mildred “Mickey,” and son Kenny, a supervisor, will also lose their jobs. Nicholas C. Newnam founded the family-owned Newnam Foundry company in 1920. It has survived two major fires, moves to different locations in Kendallville, work stoppages, and changes in ownership, including an employee takeover in the 1980s. It seems as the nation’ seconomy, goes so goes the foundry. This time it couldn’t survive the worldwide economic downturn.

Before stricter environmental regulations forced the foundry owners to install filters and scrubbers, residents on the city’s south side constantly complained of foundry residue coating their cars, homes and clothes drying on outdoor clothes lines. Roads and highways were once built with foundry sand. During the 1980s with emphasis on environmental protection, the state discouraged the use of foundry sand for road construction even though there was no proof it endangered the environment. Former Kendallville Mayor John Riemke supported the use of foundry sand for road-building and argued to no avail that the south side of Kendallville was built on it. In 2006 Dalton agreed to pay $66,143 in penalties and to more closely monitor and regulate missions at its Kendallville plant to avoid $400,757 in addition fines after the Indiana Department of Environmental Management charged the company with multiple violations of state law and permit requirements from 1997 to 2006 at its Warsaw and Kendallville operations. I recall a particularly controversial issue to go before the Kendallville Board of Zoning Appeals in the fall of 1988 involving the foundry, called Newnam Manufacturing at that time. Foundry management sought a use variance to establish a state-approved monofill in a sand and gravel extraction pit 1.5 miles north of Kendallville on Angling Road. The company planned to deposit what it described as non-hazardous solid waste material on the site. The foundry needed the site to deposit sand residue from its molding operation, and planned to build a clay bathtub to contain the sand and allow outside water to drain around the compacted clay walls. A state law introduced in 1986 prohibited foundries from storing sand on its property. A group of Angling Road residents complained the sand dumping would affect the nearby Duck Lake’s natural environment, increase truck traffic on the narrow road and decrease their property values. The controversy raged for two months and attracted all three Fort Wayne TV stations to the former City Hall council chambers for the Nov. 16 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. Newnam Manufacturing employees owned the foundry at the time, so this wasn’t a major corporation trying to roll over a small community. The board voted 4-1 to grant the use variance. The foundry has deposited sand in the gravel pit for more than 20 years, but that will stop when the foundry closes. U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D.-Ind., visited the Dalton foundry in Kendallville in September 2004 and in May 2005 pledging to the workers to fight to keep jobs from going over seas. In November 2007 Kendallville City Council granted the Kendallville operation 10 years of tax abatement on $360,000 in new equipment. The new equipment did not create jobs but would help the company stay competitive, company officials told council at the time.

Last year Gov. Mitch Daniels honored the Dalton foundry in Kendallville with a Half Century Award for its loyalty and community service. Sunday’s newspaper will feature four Dalton foundry employees with a combined more than120 years of service describing their jobs and the impact the foundry’s closing will have on their lives.

Gray iron foundry to close Indiana plant

Dalton Corp., based in Warsaw, IN, has not filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy claim as previously reported. According to a release from the company, Dalton parent Neenah Enterprises Inc. will close the Dalton foundry in Kendallville, IN, in early March 2009.

“The decision to close the facility was made due to the pressures of an overall weak economy and the particularly difficult economic issues facing the foundry industry and manufacturing in general,” according to the statement. While acknowledging “the outstanding efforts of the excellent workforce at the Kendallville facility,” it added its regrets about job losses at the plant and the effects on the community there.

About 200 workers would be affected by the closing, according to local news reports.

A holding of Neenah Foundry Corp. since 1998, Dalton Corp. has its main plant in Warsaw, and the second operation in Kendallville. Their total capacity is about 200,000 tons/year.

Dalton also operates a machining plant in Stryker, OH. Its products are gray iron castings ranging from 5 lb. to 600 lb., for air conditioning and refrigeration systems, automotive engines and gear boxes, stationary transmissions and heavy-duty truck transmissions.

Neenah to Close Dalton’s Kendallville Plant - Released on December 11, 2008

Neenah Enterprises Inc., Neenah, Wis., announced that its Dalton Corp. subsidiary will close its metal casting facility in Kendallville, Ind., in early March 2009.

Dalton, which maintains metal casting facilities in Warsaw, Ind., and Stryker, Ohio, as well as Kendallville, is a supplier of gray iron castings for air conditioning/refrigeration, engines, gearboxes, stationary transmissions and heavy truck transmissions, among several other markets.

According to a press release issued by Neenah, the decision to close the facility was made due to the pressures of a weak economy and the issues facing the metal casting industry and manufacturing in general.

“The company commends and appreciates the outstanding efforts of the excellent workforce at the Kendallville facility,” read the release. “The company regrets the effect the loss of jobs has on our people and the community.


Neenah Enterprises Inc. is the indirect parent holding company of Neenah Foundry Company. Neenah Foundry Company and its subsidiaries, including Dalton, manufacture iron castings and steel forgings for the heavy municipal market and selected segments of the industrial markets.


Misc. Photos of the Dalton Foundry


Dalton Foundry

Before and during WW II the Dalton Foundry made tire pumps & the U. S. Military bought thousands of them.