MacLean Power Systems acquires Dotson Iron Castings

MacLean Power Systems, (MPS) a manufacturer of products for transmission, distribution, substation, and communications infrastructure, has completed the purchase of AFS Corporate Member Dotson Iron Castings, a ductile iron foundry located in Mankato, Minnesota.

Operating for over a century, Dotson Iron Castings will remain at its current location, where it manufactures more than 120 tons of ductile iron daily. Dotson currently supplies critical transmission hardware and fiberglass cross-arm brackets to MPS’ Alabaster, Alabama, and Newberry, South Carolina, facilities. MPS’ customers and end users will benefit from shorter lead times and increased production capacity in these rapidly growing market segments.

“Dotson’s excellent performance as a supplier, including the quality of their product, and best-in-class foundry process are really what drove us to this partnership,” said Steve Scharnhorst, CEO of MPS. “However, what is most advantageous about Dotson is their talented and knowledgeable team. Each and every dedicated individual at Dotson has worked to make the business what it is today and they will continue to be their essential element.”

MacLean currently provides components for utility companies. And as the world moves away from fossil fuel energy and toward electricitity, the company predicts growing demand for its products. For that reason, and because of the quality of Dotson’s products, Scharnhorst said MacLean had zero plans to do anything but keep the Dotson foundry as busy as ever. 

“We have great potential to integrate with all our existing facilities,” he continued. “This acquisition accelerates our vertical integration strategy, allowing us to serve our customers’ needs more effectively and continue to expand our ability to provide a growing number of American manufactured products.”

Denny Dotson and former CEO Jean Bye, who together own nearly the entire stake in the company, had been looking for a potential buyer for several years. Both wanted to make sure whoever purchased the company would keep the foundry operating in Mankato. They believe they’ve found that with MacLean.

Bye said she and Denny Dotson looked strategically to find the right buyer. They knew they didn’t want to sell to a mega foundry because, in that scenario, the chances of the foundry getting shut down were greater. They also didn’t want to sell to a company that might resell in a few years to make a profit. They wanted a buyer with solid business reasons for keeping the plant operating in Mankato.

“With MacLean we found that,” she says. “It’s part of their supply chain. It’s integral to the success of their product.”

Besides, MacLean has been relying on foreign suppliers, Bye said, and it wants to transition to working solely, as much as possible, with American companies. MacLean also likes Dotson’s speed of delivery.

“When MacLean needs castings, they need them rapidly. And when their orders change, they need to be able to have a source that can supply that quickly without having to wait 20 weeks,” she said. “So they have a business reason to keep this plant running, to keep it open here, and to keep these people at their jobs.”

The history of MacLean Power Systems dates back to 1925. The business was launched with a lock-nut product marketed to the railroad industry. In the 1980s, it sold off the part of the company serving the railroad industry and began focusing on power systems. They’ve grown by acquiring utility- and power-focused companies, but have rarely closed facilities upon purchase. 

Dotson CEO Tyson Twait will join MPS as vice president and general manager of Mankato operations. Along with meeting MacLean’s sourcing requirements, Dotson will continue to produce castings for other commercial customers.

“I am very excited about the opportunity this brings to Dotson,” said Twait. “MPS’ dedication to its facilities, employees, and safety will be of great benefit to our existing workforce.”

Steve Scharnhorst added that “the utility industry has an urgent and timely demand for infrastructure hardware. We’ve heard our customers’ needs clearly, and this acquisition is designed to help meet that requirement, while strengthening the quality of all our offerings.

MPS provides engineered products, including poleline hardware, insulators, arrestors, connectors, anchors, and cross-arms, and other related product. Founded in 1986, the company operates in the U.S., Canada, South America, Asia, and Europe with sales offices throughout the world.