Celebrating Our 60 Year Anniversary

ACE has always been about teamwork

Companies are a reflection of their employees' values and journeys through life. ACE has been blessed with so many phenomenal people throughout its journey. Each one has left their mark on the company and helped make us who we are today.


The Beginning of ACE

In 1960, when a main line fabricating company decided to move its business from Illinois to Indiana, a group of sheet metal workers were determined to continue working in Illinois. These sixteen sheet metal workers, along with several investors raised $160,000. With this money and massive sweat equity, they built ACE METAL CRAFTS COMPANY to a company renowned for its quality stainless steel fabrications.

One of the first employees of ACE METAL CRAFTS COMPANY, Jack Stout, was the stainless steel fabrication expert who rose to the position of general manager during his 40 years with the company. The techniques Jack developed are at the heart of the ACE core competency and industry reputation.


The Beginning of the Fabrication Industry

The Fabricating Machinery Association becomes the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association International, FMA is born. This marks the first “official” recognition of metal forming and fabricating as its own industry.


The Focus on New Equipment and Technology

In the early 1980’s, the workers/investors realized that time was dictating new management be found to carry on the quality tradition which they had so laboriously built. On November 22, 1982, the ACE METAL CRAFTS COMPANY was sold to Jack Lichter. Mr. Lichter recognized the inherent value of the company, plus he foresaw the computer initiated technological advancement about to overwhelm this industry.


The Focus on Growth and Investment

in January of 1991, Mr. Lichter sold the company to his two daughters, Jean L. Pitzo and Mary Lichter. Jean became President and Mary, the Human Resource Manager.

In 1993, ACE adds its first laser, which brought increased capacity and new technology to cutting metal. This was a huge financial investment and a major step in ACE’s becoming a leader in the metal fabrication industry.

In 1996, an additional building was added to accommodate the growth.

In 1998, ACE goes online – launching www.acemetal.com to expand its marketing reach.

In 1999, technology investments continued with the purchase of Solid Edge Engineering software, optimization nesting software, and a new Mitsubishi laser. These investments positioned ACE for future growth and answered the demands of a rapidly changing marketplace.


Manufacturing Excellence

ACE METAL CRAFTS COMPANY positions itself to become the best in its class through manufacturing excellence and second-to-none customer service to OEMs in the Food Processing and Packaging Industries.

In 2000, ACE continues to invest in new equipment and technology, in-house glass beading, and two Hurco advanced press brakes are added to the equipment lineup.

In 2002, ACE goes lean. A lean manufacturing initiative is undertaken. All team members are trained in the concepts of lean manufacturing.

In 2003, Jean Pitzo becomes CEO and Dale Ball assumes responsibility as president. ACE sees the value in and makes a commitment to create a company-wide lean culture.

In 2004, ACE grows revenue over 35% and adds a full second-shift to increase capacity and service levels to its customers.

In 2005, ACE invests in its environment by modernizing the facility with new windows and dust collection systems. ACE moves into the “Empowerment Phase” of its lean journey by restructuring engineering and operations into lean product-driven cells.

In 2008, ACE expands its capabilities by adding the latest in tube laser technology, the Mazak FG150. This new equipment is key in opening up new markets and products for ACE. This investment was a huge leap forward into becoming an industry leader of structural framework in our marketplace. ACE adds to its sales team to drive revenue growth and open up new opportunities on structural parts.

ACE earns a spot on the FAB 40 List of Top Fabricator in the US.

In 2009, ACE invests in a leadership training program to further develop it’s people and to prepare for future growth. ACE significantly increases its customer base with a focus on structural framework by adding a dedicated frame cell to support these new opportunities. ACE upgrades the facility lighting to “greener’, more efficient lighting technologies.


Expansion Continues

ACE celebrates it’s 50 Year Anniversary with a party for family and friends at the plant! ACE sees 35% revenue growth and increases it’s number of employees by 50%. ACE more than doubles it’s second-shift capacity to address customer demand. ACE restructures operations into three distinct lean value streams to better serve it’s customers.

In 2011, ACE moves from its original location in Franklin Park, IL to a 82,000 square foot facility in Bensenville, IL. This building doubled ACE’s manufacturing space, added additional laser capacity, a nitrogen generation system, and in-house machining capabilities, as well as increased the number of team members by 30% to satisfy the increasing customer demand.

In 2013, ACE expands its in-house machining capabilities. ACE applied for and was selected by Toyota Motor company’s TSSC division to advise us on our continuous improvement journey. ACE introduced a new profit sharing bonus plan to reward each and every team member for their part in our collective success.

In 2014, ACE has record shipments, expanded machining capabilities, and implemented a new ERP system. ACE applied for and won the Best Practice Award for the state of Illinois from the American Psychological Association for our value stream meetings.

In 2015, Angela Pitzo, granddaughter of Mr. Lichter and daughter of Jean Pitzo, now has an ownership position in the company. Angela is currently an Operations Team Leader. Her commitment to learning and growing ACE’s business is quite remarkable.

In 2016, ACE applied for and won the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award for the entire state of Illinois from the American Psychological Association. A healthy culture continues at the core of everything we do. ACE adds waterjet cutting capability and launches all new company branding - ACE METAL CRAFTS COMPANY, Where Your Designs Take Shape.

In 2017, ACE purchases two new Bystronic Press Brakes to meet the customer demands of larger size fabricated parts. The new brakes enable us to hold much tighter tolerances and improve our forming processes. ACE creates an Emotional Intelligence Class and graduates 51 team members with the goal of having 100% of ACE team members participate in the class. ACE breaks revenue and profit company records.

In 2018, ACE added a new Mitsubishi Fiber Laser. This is the latest technology in metal cutting and will enable us to process parts much faster, which is the continued focus of our marketplace. Our continued goal is to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.

In 2018, ACE is recognized as one of Forbes’ America’s Best Small Companies. Forbes, in cooperation with the Small Giants Community, selected ACE for its particular focus on company leadership, culture, community and finances.

Small Giants Award Small Giants Logo

Also in 2018, Keith Stout is named the new President of ACE. Keith began his career at ACE when he was 18 years old, working alongside his father, Jack Stout, learning the customer-focused side of the business before moving onto the production floor. Keith transitioned into the role of Production Manager and eventually, VP of Operations. With his 26 years of experience at ACE, Keith developed a singular vision for how to accomplish a challenge no one else was doing: incorporating lean methods and a Visual Scheduling Workflow into a contract manufacturing environment.

Keith Stout

By early 2019, ACE Metal Crafts Company acquired IRMKO Tool Works, Inc., a company specializing in precision-machined stainless steel components. The acquisition complements ACE’s overall position in the stainless steel fabrication and machining industry.

Following the acquisition, the company remodeled the front offices at both ACE facilities, providing improved working spaces for the sales and administrative teams. In addition, the second facility had new windows, lighting, paint, and upgraded HVAC systems installed.

Late in 2019, ACE added two new CNC Lathes. The advanced technology of the Mazak Quick Turn CNC turning center increases the size capacity, allowing ACE to supply a greater volume of our high quality stainless steel components, with the same level of expertise and insight our customers expect from us.


In 2021, ACE invests in a Training Leader in 2021, establishing a training structure & defined training process.

Also in 2021, ACE allocated capital equipment investments in the Machining division of the company.

In 2022, ACE experienced a record year in sales, breaking all previous company sales records.

Additionally, ACE was recognized as one of the Best & Brightest Companies to Work for in Chicago, and Nationally. With tremendous employee engagement in 2022, the Employee Engagement Score reached its highest percentage at 72%.

In 2023, ACE committed $3.2 million in significant investments in a new Fiber Tube Laser and Machining Center. As part of a streamlined Machining location focus, ACE moved all Machining Centers to the Machining location, making more room for Contract Assembly at the Fabrication location.

ACE was recognized for the second year in a row as one of the Best & Brightest Companies to Work for in Chicago, and Nationally.

Moving Forward

Beginning with our founding in 1960, ACE METAL CRAFTS COMPANY has maintained its dedication to producing quality stainless steel fabrications, while pursuing our purpose to create joy through kindness. The original team of dedicated ACE founders laid the groundwork for today’s highly trained and experienced team members. At ACE, we are capable of meeting today’s specific industry requirements for high quality fabrications and machining components, on-time delivery by operating as a lean manufacturing organization, and providing an exceptional customer experience by giving them …

What they want, when they want it.