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The Dotson Story: The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of American Manufacturing

ISBN: 9781643437170
Binding: Paperback
Author: Brian D. Fors
Pages: 364
Trim: 6 x 9 inches
Published: 07/12/2022

The Dotson Story recounts the history of a manufacturing company in rural Minnesota as it transformed from a small blacksmith shop in 1876 to one of the most advanced foundries of the twenty-first century. But it is more than a tale of a rural Midwestern Company. It also is a story that captures the saga of manufacturing in America during the past 150 years. This candid account of family, labor-management relations, economic cycles, and disasters and triumphs proves that through it all, American manufacturing continues to flourish.


Brian D. Fors grew up in North Dakota, earned a BA in history from Moorhead (MN) State University and a PhD in history from the University of Iowa, and was certified as an archivist at the National Archives in Washington, DC. He has taught at both community colleges and universities and has been an academic dean, a curator, an archivist, and a historical consultant. Throughout his career his focus has been on supporting and telling the stories of rural America. He lives with his wife on Johns Island, South Carolina.


"This history tells the remarkable journey, from a blacksmith shop to an internationally recognized foundry, of The Dotson Company. Enduring economic upheavals, challenges posed by two world wars, and the birth of the labor movement in America, this family-owned company is the epitome of how innovation, adaptation, and an engaged and empowered workforce produced a successful and sustainable manufacturing powerhouse. This book is the most neutral read of labor history I have seen."  — Jerry Call, CEO, American Foundry Society (Retired) and World Foundry Organization Secretariat

"The Dotson Story weaves a 146-year narrative of a resilient, family-owned manufacturing company with the larger story of a rural community's economic, technological, and social evolutions impacted by global developments. It also provides valuable lessons for emerging as well as seasoned leaders."   — Brenda Flannery, Dean, College of Business, Minnesota State University–Mankato

"If agriculture is the backbone of the American Midwest, manufacturing is the spinal cord. The Dotson Story: The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of American Manufacturing by Brian Fors reveals the intimate details of the people—immigrants, entrepreneurs, inventors, husbands, wives, friends, partners, competitors, and foes whose company history encapsulates the history of American manufacturing and its relationship to technological advancements and community creations. Without sentimentality or romanticism, The Dotson Story also examines the challenges of small, independent, and family-owned businesses, the strains on relationships and mental health, the ambiguous stress of company growth, and the disaster of economic mood swings. In the style of Tim Egan or Nancy Isenberg, Brian Fors's deep and curious research guides this cerebral and touching history."  — Nicole Helget, Author, Stillwater and The Summer of Ordinary Ways