On behalf of the entire URC Team, please join me in congratulating Brian Rhoads on his 6/30/22 retirement.
Brian’s 40 years in the refractory industry…including 17 years at URC…have made a lasting impact on his teammates, his customers and an industry that is better because of his dedicated service.
Originally from Wyomissing, PA, Brian earned a BS in Ceramic Science and Engineering from Penn State University in 1982. From there, Brian spent 18 years at 3 different refractory companies focusing on the manufacturing and quality side of the business. In 2002, he landed at URC, where he quickly made an impact at the Sharonville facility. Brian soon became famous for his relentless work ethic, which included a 4 AM start time and a “whatever it takes to make it right for the customer” attitude.
On a daily basis, Brian made sure the production and quality process was on track for our customers. Specifically, his overall knowledge of the products and process enabled him to make substantial contributions to the roll out of a new ERP system in 2008. This same knowledge and his incredible work ethic made the move from Sharonville to Brookville, IN seamless to our customers. Most recently, Brian worked his magic to successfully startup the new production facility in Birmingham… while simultaneously working with a major new licensee across the world.
Much could be said about Brian’s technical prowess and his accomplishments in production and quality. To his teammates and his customers, Brian is simply the genuine article…the no nonsense guy who earned everyone’s trust through hard work, competence, great follow through, excellent people skills and a sincere desire to do it right…and make it right for the customer. Perhaps his real legacy at URC is the transfer of his approach to the process and other teammates, thereby making our 4U Service model better.
Thank you, Brian…get some sleep and good luck with your retirement plans! You will be missed!
We are very pleased to welcome Hayden Pinell to the URC sales team in Alabama.
Raised in southern Louisiana, Hayden graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in industrial technology. For the past seven years, Hayden has successfully developed and implemented custom hydraulic power units at numerous industrial plants throughout the southern region.
Combining his knowledge of our customer’s processes with his engineering background and a focus on customer service, Hayden will cover numerous accounts in the southern region while offering the advantages of local supply from our new Birmingham plant.
For the last four years, Hayden has lived in Alabama, where he is an avid hunter and fisherman.
With his background and personality, we know that Hayden will have an immediate impact on our customers!
Awarded to a URC teammate who routinely goes above and beyond to serve and love our customers.
Shannon was hired in March of 2000, and at every URC position he has put the customer first. Shannon is currently the Director of Logistics , and he formally works with customer service and production to schedule the orders to insure we meet or exceed the expectations of every customer. Regarding above and beyond service, Shannon has been known to personally drive critical components to job sites…along with driving employees back and forth to work to make sure our labor force meets customer’s demands.
Thank you SHANNON FOR YOUR GREAT WORK…you are a key component of 4U SERVICE!!
Over the last few days both the states of Ohio and Indiana have issued stay at home directives. These directives require employees of non-essential businesses to stay home for an initial period of two weeks.
In Indiana and Ohio, essential businesses and operations include the manufacture, distribution and supply chain of critical products and industries. Some of these critical products and industries include agriculture, waste disposal, transportation, steel products, fuel, mining, construction and defense.
These essential businesses are not affected by the stay at home directives. Since URC is in the critical supply chain of these essential businesses, URC is considered an essential business and part of the critical manufacturing infrastructure.
Throughout the coronavirus precautions, URC continues to take steps to help maintain a safe and healthy workplace, in addition to maintaining federal, state, and local guidance and directives.
If you have any questions or special needs, please contact Donna, Kathleen or your URC rep. Thank you for your trust and patience…We will be in touch with future updates.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Lee Whaley to Vice President – Precast Business development with URC. When Lee joined URC In 2017, he brought with him decades of precast knowledge and experience, working successfully in industries ranging from steel to aluminum.
We will utilize his engineering experience and production background to work with our salesmen, champions, engineering group and production to improve and grow our precast footprint.
Specifically, Lee will continue to manage a sales territory, delivering 4USERVICE to these key accounts. As VP of Precast Business Development, Lee will focus on new precast business opportunities, champion specific targets in the steel industry, work with the plant to find tune production SOPs and collaborate with both sales and manufacturing to increase overall market share, quality and customer service.
Please join us in congratulating Lee as he increases his focus and responsibility to promote and deliver 4USERVICE To our precast customers.
Please join us in welcoming Paul Schmidt to the United Refractories Company (URC) sales team! Paul has accepted a Wenatchee, WA based Sales Representative position and begins working for us Monday, March 2nd.
We are pleased to announce the promotion of Pete Antimarino to Vice President, Contractor/Installers with United Refractories Company (URC). When Pete joined URC in 2017, he brought with him decades of knowledge working successfully with Contractor/Installers throughout North America.
Pete’s experience, energy and enthusiasm have made United’s 4U Service package even stronger, particularly as it relates to growing new products and new applications with our key business partners.
Please join us in congratulating Pete on the promotion to Vice President, Contractor/Installers, where he will continue to lead URC’s efforts to increase our overall customer service to our Contractor/Installers.
We are pleased to welcome Robert Piestrzynski into our URC Family!
Rob earned his BS in Product Design Engineering from Ferris State University in 2001. Shortly after graduation, Rob broke into the Portland Cement Industry as a Tech Services Engineer with St. Mary’s Cement. With assignments in Detroit and Chicago, Rob worked closely with QC and production on product lines, raw material selection and production processes.
In 2014, Rob made the transition to sales as an account manager for Magotteaux’s Cement division. At Magotteaux, Rob leveraged his cement process experience to value sell proprietary alloy castings within the cement production process. Rob successfully called on and managed cement plants in over 10 states in the west and south.
Living in Nashville with his wife and three children, Rob will have direct sales responsibility for approximately 20 accounts in the U.S. In addition, he will act as our Cement Champion to develop our value added cement strategy and work with other cement salesmen to understand the needs of the cement customer and deliver top quality 4U Service.
We are pleased to welcome Brian back into the URC Family! With a ceramic engineering degree from Penn State and 36 years experience in the industry, Brian rejoins United after working at both our Sharonville, Ohio and Brookville, Indiana plants from 2002 to 2016 in a number of management capacities. Starting today, Brian will be our Director of International Licenses.
As International Licenses Director, Brian will use his vast refractory knowledge base to communicate, teach and collaborate with both current and prospective URC Licensees around the world.
At 11:37am Saturday May 11th, our dear friend and co-worker Rick “Falcon” Falkowski passed away at age 66 after a short but difficult battle with both heart/lung complications. Rick’s wife Robyn was by his side throughout his struggle.
Rick has been involved in the metal casting industry for 45+ years, beginning with a foundry apprenticeship program in the 1970s, and then getting into refractory sales shortly thereafter. For the last 18 years, Rick was with United Refractories and developed several territories throughout the Midwest.
During his years in the business, he made countless friends along the way and seemed to know just about everyone. While attending a conference or training session, you never had to travel far to hear a “Falcon story”. His customers looked forward to seeing him and hearing his latest thoughts on both the foundry industry and the Green Bay Packers, both of which he was very passionate about.
Rick was involved with the American Foundry Society in many capacities over the years, working as committee member, chairman, speaker, etc. Rick did many speaking engagements and was particularly good at discussing his knowledge and experiences in ways that the audience could understand. He was excited to pass his knowledge onto others to keep the industry moving forward.
Falcon will remain a legend in the Midwest Foundry market. Up until his last day, he was respected by every customer, loved by his URC friends and engaged in doing the best job possible. We all will miss Rick very much.
A celebration of Rick’s life will be held at Roseberry’s Funeral Home in Friendship, WI on Friday, 5/17/2019 from 1pm-4pm. From there, the celebration will continue at the Friendship Café with lasagna and garlic bread which were Rick’s favorites. The funeral home is located at 512 Main Street, Friendship, WI 53934.
Please keep Robyn and the rest of Rick’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. He will be deeply missed.
With a ceramic engineering degree from Missouri S&T and over 20 years of refractory experience at Vesuvius, Plibrico LLC and Holland Mfg., Justin has an extensive knowledge of the industry.
In particular, Justin has monolithic experience ranging from low moisture technologies to plastics to precast… all key product areas that are critical for URC to deliver 4USERVICE to its customers.
Relative to our customers, Justin’s experience lines up well with our customer base, as he has developed and pioneered products for the aluminum, iron, steel, incineration, cement and HPI Industries.
Aside from a vast product development resume and multiple patents, Justin also has extensive experience in raw material sourcing and QA disciplines… key areas that bridge the gap between good research ideas and robust products that cost effectively perform for end users.
URC’s main objective is to continue to improve our 4USERVICE and provide increasing levels of value to our customers. We believe Justin will be a great leader and teammate to make this happen!
To provide more focus, support and 4U Service for customers in the foundry segment, we have made the following alignment improvements in our sales team.
Brent Buchcuski Director URC FOUNDRY Market
Entering his sixth year at URC, Brent brings nine years of supervisory experience at all levels of the foundry, including the job as foundry and melt area manager. Brent will continue to work with Rick and Pat in the Midwest, along with working with all other URC salesman on foundry market details. These details range from collaborating on key account strategies to joint calls to input on product development needs for the foundry application. Brent will be accountable for maintaining and growing our sales to direct foundry accounts and foundry distributors.
Ron Stewart Foundry Sales/Service Rep
URC is pleased to welcome Ron Stewart to the team! Ron will be coming on board at the end of July in the role of Foundry Sales/Service Representative. Ron will be a great compliment to our foundry group, which is an industry leading source for products, knowledge and support.
Ron has been at Cadillac Castings for 30+ years and has held various management positions including foundry, finishing, and melting. For the last 17 years, Ron has held the position of Melt Superintendent. In this role he was responsible for all aspects of the melting operation including the cupola, channels, repairs, and auto-pouring. He has been an active member of AFS and has done several presentations at Cast Expo and Casting Congress. Currently, he is the Chairman of the 8F Cupola Committee.
We are excited to add Ron’s experience and knowledge to our team, as his background and people skills will improve our ability to add real 4U Service Value to numerous accounts and distributors. Ron will report to Brent and be based out of Kalamazoo, MI.
United Refractories Company is excited to announce that Pete Antimarino has joined our company as Senior Director Contractor Installers, effective June 5, 2017. Pete has held a vast array of key sales and marketing positions over his three-decade career in the refractory industry. This background and experience will enable Pete to make an immediate impact at United.
URC’s newly created executive position was established in recognition of the vital role that CIs play in the industrial marketplace. Pete will champion this new Contractor initiative through a customized approach that builds on United’s 4U Service commitment with our Contractor Installer business partners.
The “Aluminum Platform” for United Refractories Company is based upon satisfying the aluminum customer value proposition which has 3 main pillars: (1) Reduce total process costs/MT of metal produced; (2) Improve/impact metal quality; (3) Improve/optimize furnace availability. All of URC’s R&D, sales, service & marketing activities are driven by the pillars of this value proposition.
Our overall approach in serving the aluminum market is to provide solutions that create value based on relevant quantitative data. This initiative has 4 main elements: (1) Customer challenges which would include identifying the critical wear mechanisms acting upon and deteriorating the refractory in aluminum casthouse operations. (2) Product qualification which involves a comprehensive testing program that best simulates these wear mechanisms to better understand and position URC products relative to these wear mechanisms. (3) Process analysis which involves a thorough audit of the specific aluminum furnace process, to better understand the most critical wear mechanisms impacting the refractories in that particular furnace. A very detailed “process audit” has been developed by URC to initiate this investigation. (4) Product selection which involves utilizing the process audit results along with the product qualification test data, to provide a more “prescriptive” value solution, or a Solutions AWEARness offering that is specific to each customer furnace. As we know, not every furnace is the same and creating value for the customer is the goal.
Milwaukee, WI – URC attended and exhibited at the American Foundry Society’s Casting Congress exhibition. URC was able to showcase their many new innovative products, platforms and services including 1Source, PriorityU Technical Services, Solutions AWEARness Aluminum Platform, Gel Bond Cement Free Technology and much more.
URC was also able to enjoy a great night out with its customers’ at the Milwaukee Brewer’s game!
URC is exhibiting at Booth 420 on April 25-27th in Milwaukee, WI their latest industry leading refractory products designed for Aluminum, Iron and Steel along with their PriorityU Technical Services and 1Source turn-key product and project offerings. Sales and Technical staff will be hand to discuss and help provide information on how URC can add value to their customer’s operation!
URC is excited to announce that Mike Rzepczynski has joined URC! Mike, who was formerly at Harbison-Walker, has been in the refractories industry for 31 years and brings a great deal of refractory knowledge to the team. He will focus on the aluminum market, but also cover other industrial applications in his Midwest geographic area out of his home base in St. Louis, MO.
“Tom brings a great deal of experience to the United team, as he has an excellent combination of sales, management and technical skills” Jim Caprio VP sales and marketing
Tom Robich has over 36 years of experience in the refractories industry with Harbison-Walker Refractories Co. Throughout this 36 year career at HW, Tom held various territory sales positions, starting in Houston, Texas and progressing to a larger maintenance territory in Dallas, Texas. After 6 years in Texas, Tom moved into a new application-focused glass sales assignment in Toledo, Ohio for 4.5 years and then progressed to project sales in Pittsburgh, Pa., handling all new furnace construction activity in the US and Canada for the next 2 years. Tom’s career path continued into technical marketing as he assumed the position of Marketing/Application Manager for Non-Ferrous Metals for the next 5 years. After this assignment, Tom moved to Indianapolis, Indiana as the Regional Sales Manager for the next 3.5 years. Tom was then called back to Pittsburgh, Pa. as Senior Director-Industrial Metals Sales Unit and held this position for 15 years.
“Tom’s professionalism and customer focused approach fits perfectly with our 4U customer service, as he will help us improve and get to the next level of customer solutions and service.”….Doug Niesen CEO
In addition to many years of strategic planning, account development and sales process design experience , Tom holds a BA in Economics & Administrative Management Science from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MBA in General Management from Bowling Green State University.
This presentation is an overview of the basics regarding form design and refractory composition, selection and properties, including the importance of refractory conditioning and proper introduction of the metal.
United Refractories Corp. (URC), the leading provider of high impact products that help customers meet and exceed their specific refractory requirements, will be exhibiting at CastExpo in Minneapolis, MN from April 16 – 19, 2016. CastExpo is sponsored by the American Foundry Society (AFS) and is the single largest trade show and exposition for metal casting in the Americas. This Expo offers metal casters, suppliers, and casting buyers and designers the opportunity to connect and educate themselves on the latest that metal casting has to offer. Please visit the United Refractories booth 1918 where you can learn more about our proven Coreless Melting, Cupola, Aluminum and 1Source technologies – and 4U Service!
Back Row from left to right: Brian Rhoads (V.P., Quality & Product Technology), Doug Niesen (President and CEO), Phil Nichols (Chief Financial, Administrative, & Manufacturing Officer)
Front Row from left to right: (Chi-Hsiang “Bevis” Liang, Ruei “Ray” Ju, Syuan-Jhih “Shaun” Lyu)
After an intensive training session at the United Refractories plant and training center in Brookville, Indiana USA, we are proud to announce the latest group of refractories manufacturing graduates: Yi-Ruei Ju, Syuan-Jhih Lyu and Chi-Hsiang Liang. Over the past 12 weeks, these graduates have been trained in everything from manufacturing and quality control to environmental and safety considerations. They will use the skills learned to further develop the local manufacturing plants of our URC’s partner, Presico, in Taiwan and China. URC would like to thank its partner Presico for its commitment to expanding the URC’s products throughout Asia!
Ross Vass (Chapter President – Left) awards Rick Volk (right) a chapter speaker’s plaque.
United Refractories’ Vice President of Research & Development, Richard Volk, presented at the American Foundry Society’s (AFS) Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) monthly chapter meeting on March 8th. Mr. Volk addressed “Advances in Refractories for Ferrous and Non-ferrous Melting.”
The American Foundry Society (AFS) will be hosting the International Ferrous Melt Conference in Nashville, TN USA. At this conference, experts from around the world will be presenting on various iron and steel topics ranging from alloy and treatment ladle optimization to refractories.
URC’s Johnathan Nguyen will be presenting a paper entitled “Channel Furnace Refractory Maintenance” during Session 5 on Friday, October 9th at 10AM.
The Unified International Technical Conference (UNITECR) has become the most important international conference for the presentation and sharing of technical ideas and findings in the refractory world. UNITECR brings together the refractory industry, raw material suppliers, consumers, and scientists.
This year at UNITECR, United Refractories will be hosting a presentation session over the advantages of refractories with cement free bonding systems. The presentation is based on the technical paper, “Gel Bonded Cement Free Shotcrete” written by Richard Volk, Johnathan Nguyen, and James Caprio.
This year, UNITECR is being held in Vienna, Austria from September 15th through the 18th. Johnathan Nguyen will be presenting for United Refractories. This session, covering cement free shotcretes, will be held in the “Monolithics IV” lecture, September 17th from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
URC had a very successful GIFA in Dusseldorf, Germany. At the show, URC was able to connect with hundreds of current and potential partners from over 30 different countries along with supporting their international distributors and licensees.
According to Messe, there were over 48,000 visitors to GIFA from over 112 different countries!
A significant URC refractory project features prominently in the April Issue of World Cement Magazine. The project — a monolith installation at the Ash Grove Cement Plant in Midlothian Texas — is highlighted in the issue being released during the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Cement Conference in Toronto.
United Refractories supplied the monoliths for this massive modernization project, successfully installing over 4.2 million pounds of shotcrete, gunite, pumpables and castables without any problems or project delays.
The feature article includes a sidebar story about URC, a full-page review of our 4U SERVICE model, and a generous quote from the project refractory contractor.
URC’s Rick Falkowski received the Excellence in Committee Activity Award (8D Channel Induction Furnace Committee) at the 119th Metalcasting Congress in Columbus, Ohio in April 2015. The annual Congress is sponsored by the American Foundry Society. (AFS)
Falkowski, Area Sales Manager for Wisconsin, has been involved with the committee for 28 years.
The 8-D Channel Induction Furnace Committee:
Assists the industry in answers and solutions to the questions and problems that arise with operation of channel induction furnaces
Seeks new methods and ideas that could enhance industry productivity and profitability
Reports findings to the industry-at-large as fast as possible
Promotes safe channel induction furnace operations as the standard goal and best practice
United Refractories Co. will be exhibiting this year at the GIFA Expo in Düsseldorf, Germany, from June 16th through June 20th, 2015.
As the world's largest and most comprehensive foundry technology focused trade show, GIFA provides a fantastic opportunity for URC to not only connect with its existing global network, but reach out to new potential international refractory manufacturing and distribution partners.
From an industry standpoint, URC will focus on Metal Casting for both Ferrous (Steel & Iron) and Non-Ferrous (Copper & Aluminum) applications at GIFA.
URC will be featuring its market leading UNI-RAM VR Coreless dry-vibratable technology, the UNI-SHOT/PUMP RF CF “Gel Bonded” no cement series and its FOUNDRY SOLUTIONSapproach for steel and iron applications.
Find United Refractories Co. at GIFA in Hall 10, Stand D77!
In 2013 Ash Grove Cement, a leader in the manufacture and sale of Portland cement and related construction products, upgraded their Midlothian, TX plant in cooperation with FLS.
After careful consideration, FLS, the project OEM, selected United Refractories Co. to be the bulk provider of monoliths for this project. This selection was awarded based on URC’s unique products for the preheater application, a history of ISO 9001 quality, immediate response times and exceptional customer service.
For over an 8 month span United Refractories Co. produced, tested and distributed over 4.2 million pounds of Shotcrete, Pumpables, Gun Mix and Castables for the Ash Grove facility. During that time there were no product quality or consistency issues reported throughout the mixing and installation process.
This translated into zero product oriented delays and a very efficient installation by Southern Refractories, the installer contracted by FLS.
Just in case you missed it, on Monday, October 6th United Refractories Co. was showcased on Manufacturing Marvels, a 2 minute production that spotlights American manufacturers and their unique products, competencies and facilities! You may now watch the segment here!
The development of our new Brookville, Indiana facility coupled with our continued focus on quality, customer service and product development are just a few of the reasons that United Refractories Co. was highlighted by the producers at Manufacturing Marvels.
It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our company’s founder, Raymond J. Niesen, on Saturday, April 6th, 2013.
All who knew him — as a loving husband, father and grandfather… as a trustworthy friend or stalwart brother-in-arms… as an earnest and honest businessman… and as one of the guys who “done good” from Pittsburgh’s North side — know that today the world is a little more dull, a little less smart, and a lot less colorful without Ray in it.
If a life well-lived is indeed its own monument, then what Ray leaves behind in family, friends and in our company will stand tall and true for generations to come.
Richard J. Volk receives 2012 Theodore J. Planje – St. Louis Refractories Award. This award was established “for the purpose of recognizing and honoring distinguished achievement in the refractories field.” Rick will receive this honor at the American Ceramic Society 48th Annual Symposium held at the Hilton St. Louis Airport Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. CONGRATULATIONS RICK!
United Refractories Co. launches new web platform: Our new site amplifies and simplifies customer and employee access to product-related materials, plus makes it easier for prospects to connect directly with staff.