ACRC Remembers Ray Witt
Ray Harry Witt, founder of CMI International Inc. and a very special friend of the ACRC, passed away on February 6, 2011. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Ray moved to Michigan as a teenager and graduated from Muskegon Junior College. He went on to receive a bachelor of science in metallurgy from Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, now known as Case Western Reserve University. He was a recipient of one of the first Foundry Educational Foundation Scholarships.
Ray began his career in 1947 as an apprentice at the C.W.C. Foundry. In 1952, he became sales manager for Cadillac Malleable Iron Company, where he remained until 1957, when he established his own company, Ray H. Witt Industries. He later purchased his former employer. In 1960 he founded Cast Metal Industries, which Ray H. Witt Industries was merged into in 1974. In 1983 the corporate name was changed to CMI International in order to better reflect the more diverse and global activities of the company. CMI became one of the largest independent suppliers of machined and assembled, cast and molded products to the automotive and light truck industries, with operations in many states, Mexico, and Norway. It was a leader in its industry, known for its investment in technology that utilized the most advanced computer–aided design and engineering and manufacturing hardware and software. In 1999 CMI was sold to Hayes Lemmerz International.
Ray Witt served as president of the American Foundrymen’s Society (AFS), the Ductile Iron Society, the Foundry Education Foundation (FEF), and the Iron Casting Society. He received a Gold Medal Award from AFS in 2003. “Ray was considered one of the giants of our industry,” commented John Jorstad, an AFS director and former CMI consultant. “He was dearly loved by those who had the honor to work for and with him.”
Ray was named Michigan Master Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997 and in 1999 MPI’s ACRC renamed their Aluminum Casting Research Laboratory the ACRL–Ray H. Witt Metalcasting Center.
In 2003 Ray was presented with an honorary doctorate from WPI for his contributions to and advancement of metallurgical and foundry education and programs. The university received a gift of $1 million to establish the Ray H Witt Endowment Fund to support metal-casting activities on its campus. In 1985, when the ACRC Consortium was established, Ray became the very first member and was the catalyst for others to join. In brief, the MPI model was initiated by the support of Ray H. Witt.
The ACRC gives a very special award annually in honor of Ray to an individual for leadership in the metal casting industry for investing resources to broaden the technology base; for introducing advanced concepts and techniques; for encouraging the education and training of new talent; and for inspiring others to advance the industry through technical achievement. Past recipients are John Jorstad, Gary Ruff, Sergio Gallo, Jim van Wert, Tom Prucha, Philippe Meyer, Ray Donahue, Urs Buer, Alois Franke, Davd Weiss, and Dan Twarog.
Ray has been and will continue to be an inspiration for us all.
Note: At the Spring Meeting of the ACRC, members of the Steering Committee signed a resolution in memory of Ray on behalf of the entire ACRC membership. We at the Metal Processing Institute wish to publicly thank the Witt family for its support.
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