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Great Lakes Foundry Boom!

Dave Sullivan – Schad Salesman – Project Manager

Dave Sullivan began his career as a bricklayer at Schad in 1963.  Some of the earliest jobs he remembers were at the sewage plant and at Marathon Refinery.  He came up through the trade working on projects primarily for Bo Calvin (featured in last month’s newsletter), and Jim Schad (featured in the February 2017 newsletter).  After making it through these initial assignments Dave recalls coming up working at Dundee Cement and McLouth Steel.  “There was a lot of overtime back in those days.  Plants were desperate to keep their furnaces running and we would do whatever it took to meet their schedule,” he remembers.

As Dave’s career progressed, so did the iron industry in the Great Lakes.  Dave carved out a niche running work at the iron foundries serving the automotive industry from Saginaw to Cleveland.  He recalls being involved in the installation of several new induction furnaces.  “This was much more technical brickwork than we had been doing up to that point, and the projects were larger so the foundry work really went a long way to elevate our company and its capabilities.”

As Dave learned the trade, his competitive spirit and ambition, lead to him transitioning into the role of salesman/project manager.  Dave remembers competing hard against McFarland and Hayes, a former Detroit area refractory contractor for all the work.  He won more than he lost.  “It was not friendly competition for the foundry work, it was war in terms of getting jobs.  We respected them, but there was no love lost,” he remembers.  Dave relied on the relationships he built and his and Schad’s ability to consistently perform for the customers and as a result he was tough for the competition to beat.  Dave forged strong relationships throughout the foundry industry and was a very active member of AFS (American Foundry Society).

In a career that spanned over forty years, Dave has a clear view of how much things have changed.  He remembers martini lunches, mixing monolithics in mortar boxes by hand using hoes and shovels, unloading truckloads of brick by hand.  He even recalls a now famous Schad story about an operator that used to drive a forklift 50 miles from Detroit to Dundee at 4:00 AM to be there in time for a project because it was too large for Schad’s trucks.  “In the winter it was a pretty cold and lonely ride!”  He remembers that the work was hard, but the guys all worked for the guy next to them, and the money was good.

Dave retired from Schad in 2005 having obtained a minority ownership of the company he served for 42 years.  He is enjoying retirement in Brighton, Michigan.  He has always had a passion for fast cars and still fuels his competitive spirit by drag racing to this day.

Schad would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Dave for his long and large contributions to the organization.