They had no idea they would have one of the top three artistic bronze casting foundries in the US. Monte Paddleford graduated from the University of Wyoming (UW) in 1970 with a B.S.M.E. He and wife, Beverly, a very gifted artist in her own field, met in high school in Lander, Wyoming, and later married. Monte began work with Eastman Kodak in Colorado where he worked for five years, then moved to Washington state where he worked for ALCOA for the next 10 years while ranching with his father until his death in 1981. During this period of time, he and his wife began raising four wonderful daughters. In 1985 they moved back to Lander, started a home church and Beverly home-schooled their children.
Monte was introduced to foundry work when his father-in-law needed help with his art foundry in Dubois. He realized this was a rewarding interest in his life and felt God was leading him where he could be used the most. In March, 1986, Eagle Bronze was founded in Lander, Wyoming. They applied for an SBA 7(a) loan and received it June, 1986. Monte said “SBA was there to go out on a limb for us.”
Monte’s company employs over 60 employees and is the world’s leader in casting of Monumental Bronze Sculptures. When they first began, marketing and sales were the biggest problems to overcome. Next, they faced the cost of raw materials. They solved this by sending their own truck to Denver to pick up supplies. In addition, Monte says, “in today’s world the greatest problem is the labor issue.”
Eagle Bronze has completed many larger than life-size bronze sculptures. In 1990 Eagle Bronze began casting “Divine Servant” created by Max Greiner. There is a tremendously touching story behind this sculpture, read about it at www.maxgreinerart.com/DSCasting.html. The foundry is now beginning work on a project that will be placed in Sicily. It consists of two 90-feet tall fighting bronze horses by artist Arturo DiModica, creator of the Wall Street “Charging Bull.” The Cattle Drive project in downtown Dallas, TX, was the bench mark for this industry. The most recent project completed by Eagle Bronze is the largest equestrian sculpture in the world. It is a 36-foot tall conquistador on a rearing horse, located at the El Paso International Airport in Texas. In 1998 Beverly was commissioned by Cabela’s to create bronze monuments for their new stores in Michigan and Mitchell, South Dakota. The “Hope” monument was created by Beverly in 2000; it stands in the Garden of Hope, Grand Rapids, Michigan, representing Jesus holding a baby and looking down at a young woman. Neither Beverly nor Monte thought they would make another. However, this monument was so captivating; Beverly sculptured a desk top size. This also has a story at www.hopemonument.com/ . Beverly has her own gallery in Lander and is involved in all facets of the bronze production process at Eagle Bronze to ensure the high level of detail in the original sculpture is kept in the finished product.
The Paddlefords have started another foundry in Guadalajara, Mexico. They bring the workers to their foundry in Lander and train them for one year. Then they can go back to the Guadalajara foundry to work. This has worked out very well for them.
Monte and Beverly are very customer driven in meeting the needs of their customers and are pleased that the quality of their work is being recognized. Monte is involved in the community and serves on State Boards, Job Training Partnership Act Workforce Development, Board of Manufacturing-Works, Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration Board, Central Wyoming College Foundation Board and is very involved in church. Tours of the foundry are scheduled during the summer. For more information, call 307 332-5436, 130 Poppy, Lander, Wyoming 82520.