When Mark Kelly talks about cast iron cookware, pots and pans turn into the most fascinating of subjects.
The public relations and advertising manager for Lodge Cast Iron Manufacturing Company visited the Chattanooga Civitan Club and told the members all about the company and the exciting world of cast iron appliances.
Mr. Kelly worked in the newspaper business prior to coming on to his current role, and he was visibly enthusiastic when he described the company.
“This is the most exciting time in our company’s history,” he said.
The South Pittsburgh-based company has experienced immense growth in the 14-and-a-half years he’s worked there, with the number of employees more than doubling.
“One of the things that makes me excited to get up in the morning is that, in 2005 when I started, we had 85 employees,” said Mr.
Kelly, “but today, we have 450.”
The company’s wares can be found in 80 countries around the world, and Mr. Kelly said sellers in those nations “love an American company that‘s family owned.”
The speaker emphasized the loyalty aspect of Lodge, and told the Civitan Club there were many multi-generational employees at the foundry in South Pittsburgh. He recounted a story which drew a few laughs from the audience.
“There was a gentleman who was getting interviewed by the Food Network, and they asked him why he continued to work for Lodge. The guy says ‘Well, ain’t nobody going to get rich in the company, but ain’t nobody gonna starve in here too, so that’s good.’”
Mr. Kelly continued to speak glowingly of the growth of Lodge, saying “Our main goal was make cast iron cool again, and I think we did our job. When we were growing, being in the small-town South was not cool. Now, it’s cool.”
When asked about whether the family-owned company is interested in being sold to a larger corporation, Mr. Kelly had a succinct answer.
“We’re not interested in selling. The family is not interested in selling.”
Of course, his presentation wouldn’t have been complete without Mr. Kelly pulling out and showing off some of Lodge’s famous pre-seasoned pots.
The speaker had been mixing in bits of trivia into his presentation, and at the end of the speech, he gave pots, pans, books, and magazines to the Civitans who were able to remember those cast-iron factoids.