Skip to main content

C.A. Lawton Company celebrates 10 years with Green Tier program

Program puts organizations on path to environmental sustainability

share arrow printer bookmark flag

November 29, 2023

DE PERE – When some people think of foundry work, they might think of dirty conditions, but Alex Lawton, the fifth-generation owner/CEO of C.A. Lawton Company, said the De Pere-based foundry is trying to do its part to change that mindset with the help of the Green Tier program.

Alex said C.A. Lawton – a manufacturer of gray and ductile iron castings located at 1950 Enterprise Drive in De Pere – recently announced its 10th anniversary with the Green Tier program, which puts organizations on a path to sustainability by helping them use a systematic approach to minimize environmental risk.

“We can use what Green Tier membership provides us to better manage our efforts and programming at all our locations,” he said. “Our participation in Green Tier is a win-win for the company and the community.” 

De Pere-based C.A. Lawton Company, located at 1950 Enterprise Drive, is a manufacturer of gray and ductile iron castings. Submitted Photo

Alex said 10 years “is a long time” to be involved in the program.

“It’s a big investment in terms of a company our size,” he said. “That’s why there aren’t a lot of companies our size doing it. It’s putting your resources – time and money – into where your mouth is. You can’t just say you’re going to work on improving these important environmental issues (within your company) – you have to follow through. I get a fair amount of pride out of 10 years. I will promote the program any chance I get.”

Alex said C.A. Lawton is working on improving the “stereotype” foundries sometimes get.

“Sometimes, foundries get a bad rap,” he said. “Yes, they’re messy businesses – if that makes sense – versus environmentally dirty. They might have some sand and other stuff lying around, but they’re not the type of places that have lead or arsenic.”

Searching for help
Alex said when thinking of a way to become more environmentally friendly, the company began searching for help to make that happen, and Green Tier fit perfectly into that vision.

“We asked ourselves, ‘How do we get beyond compliant?’” he said. “We did a lot of work for several years to get that done (without a formal program), but then we realized we needed something more – that’s where Green Tier came in. We didn’t just want to be a ‘try hard company.’ Programs like Green Tier force you to be disciplined.”

Alex said though it might not have been the “most popular choice” from day one – “because it’s a ton of work” – it allowed the foundry to reposition its identity as a company.

“With everything we do, it has the environment in mind – becoming more sustainable,” he said.

Katherine Jungwirth, C.A. Lawton’s environmental business partner, said though she’s responsible for many of the initiatives Green Tier has going on, it starts at the top.

Katherine Jungwirth

“It’s a vision Alex had in mind,” she said. “It’s also a passion of mine. We checked out what Green Tier was all about and wanted to make our company a positive in the community and have a good relationship with the regulatory bodies.”

Jungwirth said her focus with the company is on environmental health and safety.

“I take care of any environmental issues for our platform, anything regulatory – working with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and other government bodies,” she said.

Alex said the foundry has learned a lot in the past 10 years through Green Tier.

“It’s always a work in progress,” he said. “We submit objectives and initiatives, and then they’re reviewed – maybe there are some changes we need to make or they give us their blessings.”

Due to the work involved with Green Tier, Alex said companies shouldn’t implement Green Tier for marketing reasons.

“You can’t sustain Green Tier status every year as a marketing tactic… it has to be a part of your DNA,” he said. “The benefits will be worth the cost.”

Alex said the foundry’s customers also appreciate the effort.

Alex Lawton

“If we stunk at (manufacturing castings), customers aren’t going to give us a lot of work simply because we’re in Green Tier,” he said. “But, I think they feel a lot better about us because we are in the program. Having said that, it’s not why we’re in the program, but it’s a bonus.”

Green Tier initiatives
From saving energy to reducing waste, Alex said the foundry has implemented plenty of initiatives over the past 10 years with the Green Tier program.

“We don’t do anything (environmentally) that wouldn’t move the needle forward,” he said. “We try to reduce energy/electricity consumption, improve air emissions and take something that would have gone to the landfill and get it into beneficial reuse. We’ve also done highway cleanup and educate our employees. We’ve seen our employees also make smarter choices in their personal lives (when it comes to recycling) – it carries over into the community.”

In 1879, Charles Lawton and his uncle E.W. Arndt established what would become C.A. Lawton Company in De Pere. Submitted Photo 

Alex said there are “plenty of examples at C.A. Lawton” of recycling or reusing materials that were once heading to the landfill.

“Whether it’s taking a berm (of sand) from out back and putting it in the Interstate 41 project or reusing about 90% of the sand for our castings, we are mindful of that,” he said. “Right now, we can’t reuse all the sand – we’re trying to get there – so we find groups that can make beneficial reuse out of that – running tracks, roads, etc. so we’re not just dumping it in the landfill or throwing it out back.”

Alex said if you think about it, a huge part of what foundries do is recycling.

“We’re taking mostly things that were already created – old cars, old tractors, etc. and breaking them back down and making them into something new,” he said.

Jungwirth said a popular initiative the company does annually is its e-waste recycling and document shredding event.

“It’s extremely well-received,” she said. “We don’t set any limits – old projection TVs, computers, monitors, etc. Instead of having our employees get rid of those things on their own, they bring them into us.”

Jungwirth said the event results in almost 25 pounds of e-waste per employee being diverted from the landfill yearly.

Alex said the company eats the cost of recycling the items – another perk for the employees.

“More importantly, it’s convenient for (our employees),” he said. “You’re coming to work anyway, so bring your electronic recyclables.”

Jungwirth also said Green Tier has encouraged Lawton to look for ways to clean up around the facility, which resulted in generating more than $40,000 in cash through recycling.

“A site-wide clean-up project reduced obsolete metallic equipment and scrap iron castings,” she said. “We didn’t realize how much money was just sitting around getting rusty.”

Alex said not all the initiatives involve only the foundry – seeping over to some of its customers.

C.A. Lawton Company manufactures castings from 500-40,000 pounds. Submitted Photo

“We converted a major customer from preparing iron castings for shipment with a volatile organic-compound-containing rust preventer to Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) packaging,” he said. “VCI technology eliminates the need for rust prevention coating application, is environmentally friendly and is recycled back to the manufacturer by the customer.”

Jungwirth said VCI is “an amazing solution” for companies.

“It’s organically made, and once our customers receive our castings, they can take that packaging, collect it and it goes back to the manufacturer,” she said. “They can recycle that packaging – it’s full cycle. It’s one of our big success milestones.”

According to the Green Tier program’s report on C.A. Lawton – which is available at – the foundry began its journey as a Tier 1 participant in Green Tier in 2013 and transitioned into Tier 2 in 2021. 

Its participation in Tier 2, the report states, demonstrates a commitment to superior environmental performance and has allowed the company to become the first to receive coverage under the exclusive Green Tier Registration Permit (ROP-G).

share arrow printer bookmark flag