City of Oakland Councilmember (“CM”) Abel Guillen (District 2) and Pamela Erickson, Constituent Liaison and Legislative Aide recently paid a visit to AB&I. District 2 is home to the neighborhoods near Lake Merritt, including Arbor Villa, Bella Vista, Brooklyn Estates, Chinatown, Cleveland Heights, Crocker Highlands, East Lake, Gold Coast, Grand Lake, Haddon Hill, Rose Garden and San Antonio. CM Guillen heard about AB&I at a Job and Housing Coalition Meeting and wanted to learn more about their products, legacy and involvement in the community.
AB&I team members provided an informative tour of the foundry and CM Guillen was extremely impressed with the different processes required to make our products. He was also very happy to learn about the jobs available AB&I with good pay, benefits and retirement right here in Oakland. They discussedone of AB&I’s outreach efforts, cleaning Lake Merritt, and CM Guillen and his staff would like to join AB&I volunteers for the next clean-up.
District 2 is in the most diverse parts of the City of Oakland. The challenges in this district are many and varied – making the streets safer, growing the economy, improving access to good schools, affordable housing, transportation and quality jobs, but he strongly believes that the solutions lie in the neighborhoods, the communities, the businesses, the schools and the people of the City of Oakland. Despite the challenges they face in District 2, AB&I and Councilmember Guillen are committed to the Oakland community.
AB&I held a tour for sixteen Stanford University students on May 4th. The students are taking a course called Making Multiples: Sand Casting (ME365) which teaches howcastings are made in a mass manufacturing process.
General Manager Michael Lowe welcomed the students and talked to them about the history of AB&I and its operations as well as the challenges they face in Oakland. He invited the students to partner with AB&I on an upcoming project to find innovative ways AB&I can operate more efficiently.
Before leading the students on a tour of the foundry, Rich Watson and Dave Robinson discussed the production, engineering and environmental regulations and AB&I’s commitment to best practices that go above and beyond compliance. It was an eye opener for all of them to see how the different processes work together to make the finished products.
In a note to AB&I the professor said, “I just wanted to send a quick thank you note for our tour last Friday! We were blown away by the scale of production being done. Thank you for being so welcoming and taking the time to show us everything. I know the students were very impressed and are very excited about their new cast iron frying pans! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you all in the future.”
At McWane, we are committed to giving back to the communities where our team members live and work. One example of that commitment is AB&I’s adoption of Elmhurst Creek which runs directly behind the AB&I property as part of the Oakland Adopt-a-Spot Program. AB&I’s team members volunteered once again to remove debris from in and around the creek.
Andy Berg and Jesse Tom led the effort recruiting volunteers from different departments. Volunteers worked tirelessly cleaning the creek and picking up approximately 3 yards of trash, including a shopping cart, fire hydrant, plywood, plastic wrappers, and lots of spray paint cans. They also cut down overgrown weeds and bushes, and approximately 10 yards of brush.
Many team members expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to help clean up the creek. This is an example of the AB&I spirit inside and outside the property boundaries.
Special thanks to the volunteers for your commitment to making the Oakland community the best it can be!
AB&I partnered with Emiliano Sanchez and the Oakland Unified School District to host several middle school students and approximately 65 students from two Oakland high schools on November 2. The goal is to continue educating students about the career opportunities available in manufacturing and the important role it plays in our lives. Many students think of manufacturing as an old industry with no advanced technology. Advanced Manufacturing and Career Technical Education Day gives us the opportunity to showcase the role technology plays in our foundry today and hopefully inspire the next generation of manufacturers.
AB&I manufacturing ambassadors talked to the students about how they started their careers at AB&I, what they are doing now and why they like manufacturing. Environmental team member Mike Olvera talked about how he found his passion in the environment through an internship in high school. He discussed all the regulations he has to follow and stay up-to-date on and how he has to apply them by working collaboratively with engineering, maintenance, production and other departments to implement changes. Rich Watson, Jose Martinez, Jaime Miramontes, Alfredo Costa, Roberto Ramirez led tours for two groups of students, teachers and chaperones. Prior to the tours, Jennifer Grundell coordinated the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including head phones. AB&I also presented each student with a t-shirt that Jenny designed and a 4” cast iron skillet.
At the conclusion of the tour, the students went to Laney College for lunch and an introduction to the various manufacturing programs available at the college.
“I appreciate the partnership with AB&I and the willingness of the manufacturing Ambassadors and the team to share their experience and knowledge with the students,” said Emiliano Sanchez.
Allowing manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is clears up many common misconceptions. By working together during and after the event, manufacturers can hopefully begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the industry.
Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week (NSBW), which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. AB&I Foundry joined only three other companies that were recognized in a ceremony on May 4 and received an award from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
“This week is a tremendous way to celebrate and support the small businesses in Oakland that serve us year-round,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Our small businesses are vital engines for growth and stability in our communities. They add to the unique flavor of Oakland’s neighborhoods and foster vitality throughout our city, generating thousands of jobs and delivering tax revenues that help pay for essential City services. I’m committed to making sure this important sector of our local economy continues to thrive.”
Congratulations, AB&I, for being a cornerstone in the community for 109 years!
In 2014, AB&I adopted a local school in Oakland, California – Aspire College Academy. The school serves 280 students from kindergarten to 5th grade.
One of the first things the school needed was supplies for the teachers and books for the children. By year’s end AB&I team members had donated $1,000 in books and supplies, and Kip Wixson even gave access to his subscription to Paper Back Swap and used his credits to purchase books for the school. Aspire Principal Jessica Newburn also provided book suggestions for team members.
The teachers were ecstatic when they saw all of the supplies, and both teachers and children alike were overjoyed with the number of books donated. Kip has even applied to Paper Back Swap for the school to be on the donation list for all subscribers.
AB&I received a note from Principal Newburn:
“Happy New Year! I just wanted to extend a GIANT thank you for all the books that were donated before the holiday. Our teachers have incorporated over 40 books into their classroom libraries and have sparked some great independent reading coming into the new year already. We really appreciate your generosity!”
Some of the books donated were:
Dr. Seuss Series
– Frog and Toad Series
– Fancy Nancy Series
– Joody Moody Series
– Junie B. Jones Series
– Skippyjon Jones Series
– Eric Carle Series
Chapter Books (for older scholars)
– Magic Tree House series
– Diary of a Wimpy Kid series
– Biographies of minority leaders
– Mysterious Benedict Society Series
There was also an opportunity to provide hands-on help. Aspire has a playground in need of repair, so a group of volunteers plan to get together in February to clean up the playground, fix benches, paint, plant flowers and vegetables, and help put a net on the chain link fence.
Great job, Team AB&I! Way to give back!
For more than a century, AB&I Foundry has been producing pipe and fittings for use across the country. From its site in Oakland, California, AB&I has made components for U.S. Navy submarines in World World II and bronze statues for Market Street in San Francisco. Building off the work of founder Joseph Boscacci, AB&I products are recognized for their superior quality and craftsmanship and are 100% “Made in America” from post-consumer recycled scrap material.
But for all its history in Oakland, AB&I has been walled off from its community – literally. The foundry’s amazing work has been taking place behind a high wall tracing the edge of the property, wedged between Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train tracks and San Leandro Street. To transform the relationship between company and community, AB&I embarked on one of the largest public art projects of its kind in the area: a beautiful mural 253-feet long, eight-feet high containing 2,026 square feet of history and inspiration.
With the city’s former luster dulled by years of economic uncertainty, AB&I’s efforts not only help beautify, they remind the community of all it has accomplished while inspiring it anew.
“Our story is one worth telling, and our city is in desperate need of beautification,” said Kurt Winter, AB&I’s general manager. “The walls around our neighborhood are constantly tagged by graffiti artists, so we decided to take action and turn our own facility into a canvas for the benefit of everyone in the community. The art is beautiful, and so too is the message behind it.”
Instead of bare walls, commuters on the BART train and drivers cruising on San Leandro Street are presented with a striking tableau of milestones, memories and moments of genuine civic pride. Block by industrial block, AB&I is transforming its community while celebrating both local history and its own. Initial scenes in the mural depict Boscacci making ornamental castings for the city and the foundry’s work on behalf of the nation during World War II. Later images illustrate AB&I’s pride in its city and neighborhood, with iconic renderings of the Oakland Zoo, the Oakland Raiders football team, Fox Theater and the Christ of the King Cathedral at Lake Merritt. The richly detailed mural also honors team members who have worked at AB&I across its history.
Murals have long been used to celebrate achievement, highlight important issues and inspire future generations to greatness. From Michelangelo to Diego Rivera to contemporary art prankster Banksy, the mural is art in one of its most vital forms – directly engaging us in our everyday lives, sharing beauty and inviting new optimism for tomorrow. With so much value in the images, finding the right artist was paramount. Luckily for AB&I, acclaimed Bay Area painter Jean Bidwell from Castro Valley embraced the commission and embraced AB&I’s commitment to community and sustainability by including visuals celebrating the foundry’s accomplishments alongside those of the surrounding community.
“We have a long history of social and environmental responsibility,” said Winter. “This is yet another contribution we are making to improve our community, and it’s one we hope will inspire for a long time to come.”
AB&I’s deep involvement in its community goes far beyond the pigments and personalities used in the mural. For over two decades, AB&I has made environmental concerns a top priority, investing $10 million in environmental technology and training to set an industry standard for cleanliness and environmental responsibility. Its community faces more threats than just environmental ones, which is why AB&I has also helped law enforcement get guns off of the streets by taking in over 50,000 weapons and melting them down. This provides local law enforcement a cost-free way to permanently keep guns out of the wrong hands. AB&I also gives specialized confined space rescue training to new Oakland firefighters.
There’s been a lot to celebrate in the more than 100 years since Joseph Boscacci cast his first iron in his backyard. And now, there’s an appropriately sized canvas for this story to finally be shared with the community.
We just hope that there is room enough saved on the wall so that AB&I’s future accomplishments can be artfully memorialized too!