The People of CastAlum – Manufacturing Manager Interview – John Stafford

This month in our interview series: Manufacturing Manager John Stafford talks us through his twenty-three years of service in the foundry!

Here’s what John has to share about working in a die casting foundry:

Before joining CastAlum, I had previously worked in another foundry for twelve years. There I started on the shop floor, working as a die casting operator. CastAlum held an open day which I attended, and I was very impressed with the state of the art processes involved in a fully-automated die casting cell. I joined as a Production Supervisor in 2000, and in 2018 I moved to the position of Manufacturing Manager.

In enjoy dealing with all the different departments daily. Every day I will be speaking to Machine Operators and Shift Managers. Then to the technical/tooling side of the Engineering and Quality departments, and also to those responsible for planning schedules and logistics. There are a lot of people at CastAlum that work well together to ensure that we never let our customers down. The company is always moving forward to ensure its future success and our young engineering team play a big part in that.

In addition, it’s always good to see operators join the company as die casting operators. They come from various backgrounds, some with little or no experience of machinery. Watching them learn the die cast process and the various tasks that are required to keep the die cast cell running can be demanding. But with the help of the lead techs and support teams they soon overcome the obstacles. Several die casters have gone on to work in all other departments within CastAlum. It has been particularly satisfying to watch them grow their skill set to enable them to move into their into their more senior roles.

Reflecting on twenty-three years of service

When I think back on what I’m most proud of during my time here, I remember the small group of us that started in 2000. The building was still in the finishing stages of completion, and we spent some time in America. We had a great time learning how to run the die cast machines and refine the casting process. When we returned to Welshpool and the factory was finally finished, the die casting machines themselves arrived one by one. We put them into position and installed all the automation equipment enclosed in each cell. Soon we were running nine die cast machines including two squeeze machines! We had a full order book and had brought together a workforce from all sorts of different backgrounds that worked very well together.

(Now in 2023, we’re up to fourteen die cast cells. Plus we have a machine shop with fourteen CNC machining centres, plus a fully automated HAAS lathe!)

If you’re thinking of joining us at CastAlum, here’s my advice. Once you have settled into your role, think about which department you would like to work in. You’ll likely find that it won’t be too long before an opportunity will come your way!

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John Stafford Manufacturing Manager Portrait

John Stafford
Manufacturing Manager