After a Century, Family-Run Foundry Closes in Williamsport

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WILLIAMSPORT -- “My grandfather says there was 21 foundries in this area. My grandfather told me back in 1916 when he started.”

Walter Doebler has worked at the Williamsport Foundry Company practically his whole life.

"I started here when I was in seventh grade. My grandfather, my job was to scrub the office floor in there and it's still the same floor. I had to scrub it and wax it Saturday. I got a dollar an hour."

The company was started by Doebler’s grandfather in a chicken coop a century ago in 1916.

For three generations, it has been a family business, with workers here casting brass, bronze, and iron projects for coal companies, power plants, and more.

Soon the foundry owners say because of overseas competition, government regulations, and few customers, they will close the doors for good.

Just before Christmas, eight workers were laid off. All that remains now is family members who are packing up to sell the building and land on Maynard Street in Williamsport.

"In 1938, what was going on in the world? World War II was starting. They had a contract to make boilers for Russia here in Williamsport and they needed all these parts and that's why we got so busy,” said Doebler.

But that business has gone away.

"It's sad. Not only for my family, but the workers," said Valerie Doebler, Walter’s daughter who also works at the foundry.

Walter Doebler calls the work once done at the foundry an art form, one that is quickly dying as his business and others like it close.

Soon he says, there will be no one left.

"It's in your blood, I say, we do it because we love doing it and we love making stuff."


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