As any company involved in the automotive industry knows, the sector clearly follows a cyclical pattern over time. Patrick Greene, the president of Cascade Die Casting Group Inc. in Grand Rapids, believes that after six years of growth in U.S. auto sales, the next downward cycle could occur “in the next couple years.” But Cascade Die Casting and other suppliers, for whom the pain of the 2008-2009 recession remains a very fresh memory, have already started taking action. “We are preparing by making sure our balance sheet is strong and our operations are highly productive and efficient going into the downturn,” Greene said.
"Our industry anticipates continued growth as auto lightweighting efforts use aluminum to replace heavier iron, steel and other materials. … We have benefitted from strong growth in the automotive segment since 2009. We are anticipating that levels off in 2017 and potentially even contracts slightly. We are preparing for the downturn by making sure our balance sheet is strong. Our capital investments are focused on automation and facilities improvements. Automation performs the mundane, repeatable tasks well, especially in a foundry environment. Our employees can work on process improvements, reducing waste and resolving issues proactively. This allows our employees to improve their skill levels and advance in the organization. … We need to treat our employees well and create an environment where they can be engaged and empowered. They want to feel valued and respected. We need to make sure they enjoy their work and feel like they are contributing to growing and improving themselves and the company. Their personal and professional growth is our focus going forward." - Patrick Greene, President, Cascade Die Casting Group Inc.