Iron cooker a breakthrough for foundry

Goldens’ Foundry’s cast iron cooker is the equivalent of grandma’s cast iron skillet, so durable it can be passed down from generation to generation. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO
Goldens’ Foundry’s cast iron cooker is the equivalent of grandma’s cast iron skillet, so durable it can be passed down from generation to generation. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO

Goldens' Foundry & Machine Co., home of Goldens' cast iron kamado grill, occupies a long block off 6th Avenue in Columbus, just east of the Chattahoochee River. The adjoining two- and three-story brick buildings have the aura of the 1800s. Indeed, the company dates from the early 1800s, when the two oldest sons of George Jasper Golden, Poitevent and Theo, opened a foundry and machine shop.

This advertisement from the archives of Goldens’ Foundry & Machine Co. shows the cane syrup mills and kettles they made to meet the need of farmers. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO
This advertisement from the archives of Goldens’ Foundry & Machine Co. shows the cane syrup mills and kettles they made to meet the need of farmers. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO

“Those two founders of Goldens’ were my great great grandfather and great great uncle,” said George Boyd Jr., vice president of sales and administration. “At the time, there was a booming textile industry in Columbus, and the foundry supported both the textile industry and the regional farming community. We made our own line of sugar cane mills and syrup kettles, and we still get calls today from customers wanting replacement parts for those mills.”

As time passed, the foundry adapted to meet the needs of the community. At the start of World War II, they were asked to make steering engines for Liberty ships, the workhorse cargo ships. After the war, they chose to concentrate solely on products for customers in the construction, agriculture and transportation industries.

The management team of Goldens’ Foundry includes (from left) Ed Boyd Sr., vice president of operations; George Boyd Jr., vice president of sales and administration; George Boyd Sr., president; and John Boyd II, plant manager. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO
The management team of Goldens’ Foundry includes (from left) Ed Boyd Sr., vice president of operations; George Boyd Jr., vice president of sales and administration; George Boyd Sr., president; and John Boyd II, plant manager. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO

“But, in the 1980s, my father could see the devastation to our industry brought about by Chinese imports,” George Boyd Jr. said. “Although we had all worked in the foundry growing up, he told us we’d be better off to find different vocations. I became a lawyer, my middle brother became a banker, and my youngest brother went into publishing.”

However, over the years, “we each found our way back to the company and we are now the owners,” he said. “We are one of the few fifth-generation manufacturing businesses still in operation.”

The brothers were interested in diversifying, by making products for the retail market. One day, their foundry manager was talking about how he had broken his ceramic kamado grill. “That was our light bulb moment,” Boyd said. “We could make a cast iron cooker, one that would last for generations. It fits with our cultural values as a company. We believe in investing in people and in making things that are built to last.”

Goldens’ Foundry reimagined its syrup kettles as today’s contemporary fire pit. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO
Goldens’ Foundry reimagined its syrup kettles as today’s contemporary fire pit. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO

So, the Goldens’ cast iron kamado grill was born. And, in a nod to the company’s heritage, they also began making fire pits, based on those cane syrup kettles of the late 1800s.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought another opportunity for the foundry. “When the call went out to American manufacturers to see what we could do to support the nation, we realized we were not a good contender to manufacture respirators or face masks, but we certainly know about pouring iron,” Boyd said. “With gyms closed and people focusing on wellness at home, we saw a gap in the market for kettlebells and dumbbells. Like so many things, production of those had been outsourced to China, and now the supply was cut off.”

Boyd said all these new products complement one another: “We’re now a lifestyle brand. You can get in a workout, then cook yourself a delicious meal on our cooker, and, finally, relax by the fire pit.

COVID-19 brought the opportunity for Goldens Foundry to move into more consumer products, like these kettlebells. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO
COVID-19 brought the opportunity for Goldens Foundry to move into more consumer products, like these kettlebells. CONTRIBUTED BY GFMCO

“This coronavirus experience has been a wake-up call for many about how overly dependent we’ve become on things made in other places. My father, brothers and I are proud that we have some 240 families here in Georgia who make their living making products for other Americans.”

And, they’re passionate about making products that will last. “Our cast iron cooker will outlast me,” Boyd said. “I don’t have to worry about it cracking, and I don’t have to be fussy when I’m cooking on it. … I don’t want to pay a premium for a grill and be worried it’s going to break. And, I’m a bit sentimental. I appreciate that my daughters and I use the cooker together, and one day my grandkids will.”

The cooker at Boyd’s house gets lots of use grilling steaks and hamburgers, and smoking pork butts overnight. “I appreciate the ritual of it, getting it going, spending time making sure it’s dialed in, temperature-wise, then waking up in the morning and it’s perfect,” he said. “We take it off the cooker, wrap it up and let it rest, then use the searing plate to cook eggs and biscuits. It’s not just the food it produces, but the time we spend around it together. That’s why nobody gets romantic about their microwave.”

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