Photo of NWIRC's Bob Zaruta and Graham Stamping's David MacHarg
(L-R) Bob Zaruta, NWIRC President/CEO and David MacHarg III, President of Graham Stamping.

Experience and legacy are two words that come to mind when you visit Graham Stamping. Manufacturing has a rich history in Pennsylvania, and my recent tour at this company in Mercer County exemplifies that fact. They epitomize how a company’s longevity, along with skilled and knowledgeable employees, keep them moving forward as strong as ever – even through the tough times.

Graham Stamping President, David MacHarg, is 3rd generation at the company that was started by his grandfather in 1949 and where his father took the reins in the mid-sixties.  “It’s all I ever knew as a kid growing up,” he states in their latest company video, “spending summers as a teen shoveling scrap and greasing machines.” When touring through the plant, he doesn’t miss a beat in talking about the experience and teamwork that has gotten them through this past year. David was working at a large marketing firm in Pittsburgh, after graduating from Pitt with a communications focus, as a plan for him to get experience outside of manufacturing. But, he came to work at his family’s company full-time in April 2019 after the unfortunate passing of his father. He was named President just three months before the pandemic hit.

The company, with 22 employees, specializes in all types of progressive and compound dies enabling them to provide custom metal work for the automotive, mining, and construction industries. The facility has fifteen stamping presses ranging from 60-ton to 600-ton capacity with high-speed capabilities and the ability to run all grades of steel and aluminum. Their newest investment, a Servo Former press from AIDA-America, allows them to digitally control the parameters, slide speed, and motion of the press on a desired metal with greater precision and increased capacity. A significant portion of Graham Stamping’s business comes from the automotive industry and, as a Tier 2 supplier, they have served many of their customers for over 40 years.

Graham Stamping took on disruptions from the pandemic in stride, tapping into many opportunities available from regional resources. In fact, he mentioned using the NWIRC website’s COVID-19 Resource page as a hub for his information as it changed so rapidly. They participated in the COVID-19 Recovery Program business assessment and received a tactical action plan with

recommendations for growth. They continued on with several initiatives, including a 13-week cashflow analysis with Steel Valley Authority and marketing projects. David said these resources were a great benefit to the company over the past year, but the core of their resiliency is their team of experienced and dedicated employees. He said “resilience is baked in from previous generations in knowing how to manage risk” stemming way back from barely teetering during the downturn in 2008 and other turbulent times beyond.

As far as transitioning into the leadership role for the company, he said it was easy because of the support and trust from the employees based on how they were treated and respected during his father’s tenure. It’s because of the experience surrounding him that he continues turning to his team for their insights and input for decisions as they move the company forward.

The company’s goals and strategies for the future are many. Capturing more business and diversifying, automating more processes, a new ERP system, and adding another shift are just a few. But over the next 5-10 years, David knows the biggest challenge will be workforce as the most experienced employees will be considering retirement. Using available resources from NWIRC, WEDnet, and others – he wants to start now – to ramp up training and grow new management – to be sure the legacy continues.