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SBIR and SBA Award Creates Big Boost for Local Business

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a variety of programs to help entrepreneurs start, build and grow their businesses. But even if a business never requires extra help with capital or counseling they can still receive a boost in business from participation in some lesser known SBA programs. That has been the experience of O’Fallon Casting, a nonferrous investment casting company based in O’Fallon Missouri.  

O’Fallon Casting produces a specialized foundry product for a relatively small international market. Purchased in 2003, O’Fallon Casting has evolved from being an above average foundry to a vibrant world class operation that more than doubled its annual revenue, from $10 million to $25 million, and added 70 additional jobs to the St. Louis economy. As it has grown the company also increased its focus on expanding technology and reaching out to the community.

Among the many initiatives implemented by the company was an increase in community involvement that’s helped drive the foundry to leadership within its niche. One significant element of outreach has been a partnership with the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Having no research and development capability of its own, O’Fallon Casting  reached out to the University on a number of fronts including exploration in the field of additive manufacturing. The school introduced O’Fallon Casting to sponsorship of research as part of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research and Development that has the potential for commercialization. Sponsoring research through the SBIR program was O’Fallon Casting’s first experience with the SBA and it led to an expansion of a technology that will decrease the cycle time it takes to deliver parts to customers. 

Their next contact with the SBA came when the O’Fallon Casting company was named SBA’s Region 7 Sub-Contractor of the Year in 2012.  Since winning the award the company’s inquiries have risen by 50% and created a positive impression with many new potential customers. The increase in inquiries has led to the award of more contracts which in turn boosted their work load and created additional jobs in the community.

The company considers the SBA distinction as an “inflection point” for its business and one that continues to have a positive impact on O’Fallon Casting’s bottom line.  Sales Manager Bruce Willson sums up his feelings on the Sub-Contractor of the Year recognition with gratitude. “I can’t say how much we appreciated being recognized by the SBA. It has meant a lot to our business. At the time our being SBA Sub-Contractor of the Year felt like a reward for a job well-done. But quite to the contrary it was the beginning of the job.”