Elisabeth Smith takes over reins of Meadville’s Acutec

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By Keith Gushard

Acutec Precision Machining Inc., an aerospace and power generation manufacturing firm, has named Elisabeth Smith as its new president and chief executive officer.

Elisabeth previously held positions of director of strategic operations and interim quality director at Acutec. She succeeds her father, Rob Smith, who is now executive chairman of the company.

In 2014, Acutec completed its transfer of majority stock ownership from Rob to daughter Elisabeth, making Acutec Precision Machining a woman-owned business.

Elisabeth, a 2000 graduate of Meadville Area Senior High School, first started part-time at Acutec while in high school and established her credentials in the aerospace manufacturing industry before coming permanently to Acutec in June 2013.

“With Elisabeth assuming the ownership and CEO position at Acutec, we have ensured the long-term continuity of the company,” Rob said in a statement. “She may not have known it at the time, but I have been looking forward to this moment since 1998, when she first expressed interest in the business.”

Acutec, founded in 1988, is a privately held manufacturing company with more than $80 million in sales annually, Rob said.

Upon graduation from Allegheny College in 1973 with a degree in political science, Rob worked for Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. where he was a market research and senior analyst. He held numerous posts with Firestone, including manager of marketing services for Firestone Hispania in Madrid, Spain. He later worked for an Iowa manufacturer of industrial tires, wheels and brakes as its president of sales and marketing. Then, in 1988, he returned to Meadville and helped to found Acutec.

“With a lot of help from a lot of great people here at Acutec, I took this company from 17 people to almost 450 in 20 years, and she is capable of exceeding that,” Rob said of Elisabeth. “We intend to grow another 30 percent in the next five years. I can think of nobody better prepared to handle this than she is.”

Elisabeth is a 2004 graduate of Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in economics, which included a year of study at the London School of Economics. She then worked for three years as a consultant for the aerospace and defense practice of Charles River Associates of Washington, D.C.

Elisabeth then earned her master’s in business administration in manufacturing operations from the University of Michigan’s Tauber Institute for Global Operations. She is a 2009 graduate of Michigan’s MBA program, which included an internship at Alcoa Howmet, a maker of metal castings for the aerospace industry.

After obtaining her MBA, Elisabeth accepted a position in the operations leadership program (OLP) with United Technologies Corp., rotating through its aerospace divisions. She held positions at Pratt & Whitney as a machined components cell supervisor; as a highly engineered components supply chain project manager at Hamilton-Sundstrand; and as a transmission testing supervisor for Sikorsky Helicopter. Upon graduation from the OLP, she spent two years as a manager of the Blackhawk UH-60M medical evacuation helicopter final assembly line for Sikorsky.

Elisabeth assuming ownership and the chief executive officer’s post has ensured two great results for Acutec, according to Rob.

“First, all of our long-time loyal employees now know that Acutec will remain private and stable for years to come,” Rob’s statement said. “Second, Elisabeth brings with her the drive and the capability to take the company to even higher levels.”

“She has a determination to build on what has been started and an understanding of complex technology, quality and data applications that is unparalleled,” Rob said. “What is even better is that she combines this skill with great manufacturing floor people skills plus a clear understanding of the aerospace market.”

Elisabeth said she’s enthusiastic about leading the firm’s nearly 450 employees.

“There’s a culture of continuous improvement here that is absolutely thrilling to be a part of and an honor to lead,” she said. “We are applying 21st century technology to manufacturing to delight our customers with quality and delivery of tremendously complex components and assemblies. It’s an exciting place to be and I am pleased to be able to maintain Acutec’s long term commitment to its employees and to the community.”

Elisabeth and her wife, Ana, reside in Meadville. Elisabeth serves on the board of the Crawford County Heritage Foundation and Ana on the board of the Academy Theatre.

Rob and his wife, Nancy, also live in Meadville. He currently is chairman of the board of trustees of Allegheny College, serves on the boards of both Women’s Services Inc. and the Precision Manufacturing Institute of Meadville; the finance committee of the Meadville Medical Center; and the executive committee of the Supplier’s Management Council for the Aerospace Industries Association.

Did you know?

Acutec Precision Machining Inc. has grown during the last 20 years into one of the world’s leading privately-owned aerospace and power generation components firms with a worldwide customer base. It has sales in excess of $80 million annually and almost 450 employees. It has facilities in Meadville and Saegertown with 390 employees in Crawford County and two facilities and a total of 55 employees in St. Stephen, S.C., with more than 260,000 square feet of manufacturing space in total.

Job Fair

Acutec Precision Machining is hiring up to 40 positions for its Meadville and Saegertown facilities, including 30 machinists plus associated positions. The company is holding a job fair with open interviews Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its Meadville-area plant located at the Crawford Business Park off Dunham Road in Vernon Township.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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