Fine Arts grad finds niche sculpting metal

Adam Post, YSU alumnus who now works at Wendell August Forge in Grove City, Pennsylvania.

Adam Post

Adam Post, ’06 BFA

Wendell August Forge president, Will Knecht, has extravagant praise for one of his company’s top artisans, YSU alumnus Adam Post. “He’s a star; we’re all bit players in the Adam Post story.”

Post hears the comment, but sits, humble, immersed in the din of factory machination that comes with a thriving, growing business; one he has contributed to in no small measure.

Wendell August Forge is an American tradition, producing handcrafted giftware in aluminum, bronze, copper, stainless steel and pewter since 1923. It is the only remaining manufacturer of its kind in the United States.

Post sits for his interview surrounded by more than a dozen pieces he designed for the company, perhaps Grove City, Pennsylvania’s most famous landmark. Those 12 samples are a mere smattering of the 75 to 100 distinct shapes he created for more than 300 products in the past year alone. Post’s designs are now on sale in 200 retail shops in 42 states, and the company expects be in 500 retail locations within a year.

Post was a skilled artisan when he joined the business, but he really began to shine after a devastating fire in 2010 claimed the entire 25,000-square-foot Wendell August factory. The forge had received its largest single order in its 89-year history just days before.

That 20,000-piece order, and the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, helped save the company. According to Alex DeGroff, marketing and product manager, the Pens fronted funds for most of the contract so that the forge could more quickly get back on its feet. “We have a really close relationship with the Penguins,” said DeGroff. “If it wasn’t for them, things would have been much worse for us.”

Leann Smith, director of marketing and design, said Post has been instrumental in transforming the company ever since. “He’s done nearly all of the sculptural design for pieces now being taken to the national market.”

Post earned a bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in sculpture in 2006 and immediately began looking for a career in metal fabrication. It was his mother who suggested he apply to Wendell August; he has been there now for five and a half years.

“When I interviewed here after graduation, I was told I was overqualified,” said Post, “but they needed a someone, and I wanted to work here, so I started as a finishing craftsman and buffed metal all day.”

Eventually, Post rose to the position of master craftsman. Now he’s a vital part of Wendell August’s creative artistic team.

“Our team will come up with a creative vision and Adam just takes the metal and makes a prototype. He really is a very gifted metal artist; he can take an idea and transform it into something really beautiful,” said Smith.

Post says his shapes are inspired by his experience as a sculptor and his work with bronze casting at YSU. “YSU also helped prepare me for my career here by teaching me to accept constructive criticism, which is just as important in a commercial environment as it is on a college campus,” he said.

Post defines his workplace as “exciting and varied.” In his typical workday, he may handcraft pieces to shape or participate in the design process.  “I am absolutely loving this work,” he said. “I love being here, designing and working with my hands and all the different media. There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”

(Previously published in YSU Magazine, Spring 2012)