The manufacturing industry lost a giant when Albert Albrecht passed away on Jan. 20 at 97. Few people made such a lasting impact on manufacturing technology. How many can say, “I’ve been part of the machine tool industry for 68 years,” as Albrecht did in a 2021 interview with IMTS+?
“Al Albrecht was a rare individual,” says Douglas K. Woods, AMT president. “His professionalism, drive to provide the highest quality, and enthusiasm for manufacturing technology was invigorating and contagious. His impact on our industry is evident and will live on. He lived life to the fullest. He will be missed.”
From the Greatest Generation
Born in 1925 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, his father and uncles were tool-and-die makers and part of New England’s early-20th-century thriving machine tool industry. He recalled going to work with his dad on Saturdays and falling in love with the industry.
Albrecht served three years in World War II and even played drums in the 717th Third Air Force Army Band. He was educated on the GI Bill of Rights and moved to the Midwest to earn a bachelor’s degree in math from Ohio Wesleyan University. He also received a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from The Ohio State University in 1951.
Dedication and Commitment
Albrecht was dedicated to strengthening the domestic machine tool industry. His career spanned seven decades at blue-ribbon manufacturing technology companies like Monarch, Kennametal, Sandvik, and Textron. He was the retired co-owner and vice president of NATCO Inc.
In 2021, he told IMTS+, he learned the industry business at Monarch in Sydney, Ohio; sales and marketing at Kennametal Inc. in Latrobe, Pennsylvania; the conglomerate mindset at Waterbury Farrel-Jones & Lamson, a division of Textron; and management and ownership when he purchased NATCO in Richmond, Indiana.
An entrepreneur and lifelong learner, he developed a number of cutting tool patents and spent many years researching and writing a prestigious and comprehensive book about the industry, “The American Machine Tool Industry, Its History, Growth, Restructuring and Recovery.”
A certified manufacturing engineer, Albrecht was active in a variety of organizations to help advance the industry and careers in manufacturing, including the American Society for Metals, SME, and the Numerical Control Society.
“We are so grateful for Al’s dedication to IMTS,” says Peter R. Eelman, AMT’s chief experience officer. “He visited IMTS for more than 50 years – beginning in the 1960s through his last visit in 2018. He continued to visit long after he retired because he valued the relationships and innovations at our industry’s greatest show. We’re grateful for his recognition and including IMTS in his book.”
Not only did Albrecht live through the transformation of the machine tool into manufacturing technology, but he also experienced the thrill of constant innovation. He told IMTS+ that manufacturers have the ability and the passion “to do better, do it correctly, and get it done.” He believed the healthy competition and drive among manufacturers provided an environment conducive to continuous innovation and achieving greater heights.
Toward the end of his life, Albrecht energetically advised many to get ready for a technology transformation. And even in his most recent IMTS+ interviews, he promoted the exciting careers in manufacturing.
“Today, revolutionary new technology and advancements like MTConnect enable machines to communicate like never before,” says Albrecht. “We’re at the verge of a new generation of manufacturing technology.” He encouraged young people to pursue paths of study that prepare them for careers in advanced manufacturing.