History of Columbus Castings

A Unique Ohio and US Asset

Columbus Castings (CC) is the largest single site steel foundry in North America. It manufactures steel castings for the freight and passenger rail cars, locomotives, mining equipment, industrial magnets, construction equipment. and heavy industrial industries. CC’s sole manufacturing facility is located in Columbus, Ohio. It covers an area of 90 + acres--including 22 acres under roof. We currently employ 650 Central Ohio residents.history

CC’s roots date back to 1881 when the Murray-Hayden Foundry, a small iron foundry, served a growing agricultural based economy, was located at the corner of Scioto & Broad streets on Columbus’ near west side. The business flourished when it began manufacturing iron couplers for an infant rail industry and in 1891, the name was changed to the Buckeye Automatic Car Coupler Company.

As the American rail industry expanded, the appetite for iron couplers grew and in 1894, the operation was relocated to a larger facility on Russell Street. The name was changed to the Buckeye Malleable Iron and Coupler Company to reflect its new emphasis on iron couplers. As the American rail industry growth boomed through the early 1900’s, the demand for iron couplers soon exceeded capacity, and the business moved to the present day location on Parsons Avenue in 1902.

At the same time, industry demand for stronger, tougher products led to the conversion from iron to steel castings. The melting process was changed to steelmaking and the name of the business was changed to the Buckeye Steel Castings Company. An interesting note is that from 1908 to 1928, Samuel Prescott Bush was the President of Buckeye Steel. He was to become the grandfather and great-grandfather respectively of the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, and therefore the great-grandfather of the 43rd President of the United States, George Walker Bush. 

In 1967, Buckeye Steel became the flagship company of Buckeye International Inc., which was formed as a parent company for purchasing other non-foundry related businesses. Buckeye International was acquired by Worthington Industries Inc. in 1980, in a stock for stock merger. Buckeye Steel remained an operating subsidiary of Worthington Industries until 1999, when it was sold to Key Equity Capital in a leveraged buy-out. Buckeye Steel operated as a stand-alone entity for the next four years. However, the double blow of a weak freight rail market in 2000 followed by the devastating economic effects of 9/11 proved too much for the debt burdened business. In December of 2002 bankruptcy was filed.

That could have been the end of the story. Liquidators had been lined up to auction the equipment and raze the facility. But the former President of Worthington Industries, Don Malenick, had different idea. Don had recently retired after 40 plus years from Worthington, where he had held the position of President for the final 26 years. He had an in-depth understanding of the potential value of the facility and also maintained his love for the steel industry in the Central Ohio area. And so Don developed a personal mission to salvage the industrial icon on Columbus’ South Side. He assembled a team of investors to purchase the assets of the business out of bankruptcy, as well as a team of veteran railroad foundry men to start the new buckeye steel foundrybusiness.

The new entity, Columbus Steel Castings, was based on a business model designed to be the lowest cost and highest integrity supplier of cast steel products in the industries it serves. The business was formed with a “pro-employee”, “union-free” philosophy, created to engage its employee's talents to the fullest. When the business does well and makes a profit, then all eligible employees will share in the success. Employees are incited to work hard as a team and find ways to do their jobs better, faster and safer.

The flexibility in job assignments and work rules offered by this arrangement is a critical feature in driving the profit sharing concept to its maximum benefit. As a “Pay for Performance” company, the wage and salary compensation is based on an employee’s contribution to the bottom line. The “Open Door” policy assures every employee an opportunity to voice his or her concerns about the business and their employment. We know that the business is only as good as our people, and the recognition and development of the best people will assure continued growth and improvement in the future.

Our philosophy highlights those characteristics that we value and believe will make us successful. We know we won’t supply everyone in the industry we serve. But for those we do, we will continually strive to provide them with the finest quality and delivery service available.

In 2008, Protostar Partners, LLC purchased Columbus Steel Castings and renamed the company Columbus Castings.