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"Well the [York] Foundary, they made what they called the Gately Grinder which was a grinder used on farms to grind corn, to take the corn off of the cob. So that was a big product for them. The foundry was able to pour about anything in gray iron. One of the biggest products was a horn weight. Those horn weights were used to put on bulls' horns to turn them down for safety. And we poured four sizes, half pound, one pound, pound and a half, and two pound. And they were gray iron and they were drilled and tapped with a setscrew that held the horn weight onto the bulls' horns. We shipped them basically all over the world. Just amazing how we shipped those and shipped them either by railway express or by mail. Oh, I can remember shipping to Africa and South America…
     "We made a lot of parts for implements. Gears and sprockets and that type of thing that were used on elevators for elevating ear corn, that kind of thing. Did a lot of sheet metal work, specialty work for that. Made a lot of accessories for grain elevators, spouting and that type of thing…
     "As the farmer changed – as there became more services available like commercial feed mills, delivery to the farm by truck of prepared grain – it took that duty away from the farmer and transferred it into another business so the farmer could spend more time on actually planting and raising crops…
     "The foundry, we were right downtown here in York, and the foundry process is very dirty, a lot of soot. And so eventually, of course, we got out before EPA came in. But at one point, we would have had to move or close down. The EPA – because of EPA. And it was a lost art. It was hard to find people, the pattern makers. We used molding sand to actually make the shell that you would pour the cast iron into. That became a lot art. And so that was another reason for getting out of the foundry business.
     "When I first came to Agriproducts in 1989, we were manufacturing a toolbar that had like four by four square tubing for the mainframe. And when the bigger tractors came on with more speed and more weight, they started to really tear the toolbars apart. Now we're using this seven by seven tube with the three-eighths wall. So it was just a necessity to increase the strength of all our product lines…
     "We're very aware of our customers and our farm implement dealers who are our customers, and the farmers. The main input is from the farmers. He'll come in, or they'll come in and say, 'You know, I really want to do this and I have an idea to be able to modify your equipment or new equipment.' So I find that the farmer is the best inventor and innovator because they know what they want. Now, oh it's been a number of years ago. We were making our tractor tank mounts for our tractors they mount the chemical tanks on. And we had a rather difficult method of attaching the tubes to the side of the tractor. And this farmer came in, and he had made a set. And he said, 'Here's what I do.' And so it was really very, very simple improvement, but it made it much easier to attach the tubes to the tractor and take them back off. And so we used that for about three years. And then because of the bigger tanks and the more weight this became impractical. So, we changed again."

Don Freeman – Agriproducts

   

Other Excerpts from Don Freeman’s Interview:

Building a Fallout Shelter
Vietnam
Anti-War Protesters
Swanson's TV Dinners
Green Revolution in Mexico
Bigger & Bigger Equipment
The Atomic Behlen Building
Importance of the Farm Economy
Government Programs
John F. Kennedy
Supermarkets
Raising Kids for Export Today