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Madison foundry closes amid drop in housing construction

MADISON -- A Madison foundry has closed its doors after 50 years of business.

Municipal Castings Inc., of Madison, ended production at the start of the month, according to Joe Bungarden, president of the family-run business in Lac qui Parle County.

The closing puts 17 people out of work. The company employed as many as 35 people at one point, but has been reducing its work force as sales declined the past few years.

"It's not been easy,'' Bungarden said of the closing.

The company primarily forged manhole covers, rings and grates for new streets and sewer systems.

Bungarden said the company's sales were tied directly to housing starts and subdivision and suburban growth in the country. It began seeing a sales decline in 2007, he said.

Sales of replacement covers and related parts were not sufficient to support the operations, he said. Efforts to replace the lost business with other products were not successful.

Bungarden said forecasts do not show an appreciable growth in new residential or subdivision construction for the next 18 months.

The company began 50 years ago in New Ulm. It moved to Madison 10 years later. The foundry's two furnaces and the spacious facilities that housed the operations were closed intact, and could be quickly returned to production. The facilities could also be adapted for other types of manufacturing or production, according to Bungarden.

He said the family is currently in the process of putting the facilities and business up for sale, and hopes that a buyer will emerge so that the production and jobs can return.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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