The Seneca Foundry Story

From W.A. McCollough & Sons to Seneca Foundry

We have had a deep and rich history over the past century, from our small beginnings to the gradual growth that has resulted in the Seneca Foundry that exists today. We are proud of our storied history and family-owned tradition rooted here in Iowa. We invite you to learn more about the journey that has led us to where we are today.

original brick foundry building

The Original Foundry Building

Our Beginnings (1909-1935)

It all began when our founder, W.A. McCollough, received a patent for a hog feeding trough he had designed on September 7, 1909. The following month, W.A. moved his family from Burlington, CO to Webster City, Iowa, and began planning for his factory. The family's new home was conveniently located next to a large lot, perfect for his new factory. In the Spring of 1910 construction began on the new factory on the corner of Seneca and First Street. The project was a family endeavor from the very start, with every family member helping build their new business. 

Small business founder

Foundry Founder: W.A. McCollough

W.A. was a prolific inventor, receiving 11 patents in his lifetime and a 12th filed on his behalf by two of his sons. Though each invention was significant, W.A.'s invention of the "Rack for Feeding Troughs" had a notable and distinguished impact as it launched W.A. McCollough & Sons. His new design offered a more sanitary method for feeding and watering pigs, leading to helping keep pigs disease-free. By 1940, W.A. McCollough & Sons were producing 45% of the nation's self-feeders for hogs. 

Feeding trough system design plans

"Rack for Feeding Troughs" Original Design

When the Great Depression struck, the family found that most of McCollough & Son's money had been lost in the closure of the Webster City bank. Nevertheless, the family persevered and kept the business afloat, eventually buying 500-acres of farmland in Wright County.

Early Expansion (1936-1961)

After W.A.'s passing, the family changed the company name to McCollough's Inc. in 1939 and began looking towards expansion. With iron castings being an integral part of livestock waterers, W.A.'s two sons decided to start producing their own, leading to the building on an iron foundry in 1936. As both the new foundry and old factory continued to grow under W.A.'s son McKinley, it was decided to split the two operations. This led to the creation of McCollough's Foundry Inc, which later was headed by W.A.'s grandson Bob. The other grandson, John, took over operations at the foundry, continuing the family legacy.

family business president                               brothers and factory and foundry presidents

Pictured left: McKinley McCollough President 1950-1962 
Pictured right: John, A Mcollough, President McCollough's, Inc 1962-1986 and;
Robert L. McCollough, President McCollough's Foundry 1962-1994

With foundries changing more after WWII than in the previous 5,000 years, a lot of modernization was needed. Dirt floors were replaced with cement and improved equipment was introduced, such as molding machines. Changes in the foundry were soon followed by another name change. The name that was chosen, the name that still endures today, was determined by a simple glance out of an office window. The cross-street sign - Seneca/Stockdale - inspired the name which was made official on March 30, 1961: Seneca Foundry Inc. 

stockdale st and seneca street sign

Original Street Sign

Meanwhile, at the McCollough's Inc. factory, growth and change were also underway. Despite two fires, the factory continued to grow and expand the products that were produced. Among the many new products were swing sets, picnic table bases, and tilting farm gates. By the 1960s, McCollough's Inc. had its own color printing department and IBM data processing equipment. Despite all the changes, one thing remained the same, family values. The entire family was actively involved in all aspects of the business from sales to office work to data processing. 

Building a Foundation for the Future (1962-1999)

In the early 1960s, Seneca got into the ductile iron business, collaborating with two other local businesses, Osmundson Forge and Mertz Engineering. On the evening of October 27, 1969, a fire was raging in the foundry. A train blocking Seneca Street prevented the fire department from reaching the foundry before extensive damage was done. However, there was a silver lining to this tragedy. Franklin Manufacturing, now White Consolidated Industries, was interested in buying as much land west of the foundry as possible. Seneca was able to sell the entire corner, generating enough profit to cover a majority of the costs of building a new, larger, more modern facility. 

modern factory

New Land, New Building 

The new foundry on the west side of Webster City paved the way for rapid innovation that would lay the groundwork for Seneca Foundry as we know it today.

  • The early 70s: Most of the foundry processes are now automated and strenuous, manual labor is a thing of the past.

  • The 80s: A second furnace, automatic molding machines (allowing for bigger molds to be made), and more rooms are added to the foundry. 

automatic molding machine

New Hunter Automatic Molding Machine 
  • The 90s: A large addition is built to accommodate extra room for office staff as well as pattern and production space 
  • The 2000s: The early 2000s were a time of rapid growth for the foundry: 
    • 2003: LEAN manufacturing is implemented, making production more efficient than ever 
    • 2005: A patternmaker was hired and Top Notch Tooling (TNT) is born

top notch tooling logo

  • 2007: Seneca joins the international trade market, becoming an importer and wholesaler with the creation of the Seneca subsidiary, DesignCast.

grill topper logo

  • 2009: Yet another subsidiary is born, Gold Chip Machining. 

gold chip machining logo

All three subsidiaries were started by current president Kirk McCollough, son of former president Robert McCollough. Though these subsidiaries are no longer active, they supported the continued and rapid period of growth during the early 2000s. The ingenuity and skills these subsidiaries generated fed into the continual innovation and quality Seneca strives for every day.

Seneca Foundry Today

The past hundred-plus years have been quite the journey for Seneca to become what it is today. We are driven by our values which leads us to provide high-quality, innovative products to all of our partners on every project. We would not be where we are today without our valued employees who are all part of the Seneca family. Though the future is unknown, we expect Seneca will be growing and going strong for many years to come and are excited to see what the future will bring!  

foundry technician    foundry workers

A Century of Growth: Full PDF