By Jennifer Erb
2016-08-252017-09-22https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Ray Brace graduated from high school in January and thought he would find a job in Pittsburgh. While he applied to college, he wasn’t thinking of continuing his education. Since he couldn’t find a job, he decided to go to college.
Ray was an all-around athlete and received scholarships to play sports at several smaller schools. He wanted to go to a bigger school and decided to enroll at WVU and be a walk on athlete on both the swimming and football teams. (To this day, Ray has been the only two-sport athlete in our program).
He originally enrolled in Electrical Engineering, but hated the courses. He decided he would transfer to Physical Education to be a high school coach. What he didn’t know at the time was that his engineering advisor talked the Phys Ed advisor into rejecting him. When he returned to engineering, his EE advisor suggested he try Industrial Engineering because he felt it would be a better fit for Ray. Ray credits his EE advisor for helping set him on the right course for the rest of his career.
When Ray was graduating, one of our alumni contacted one of the faculty in the program about an opening that was available at the Hershey Chocolate Co. Ray ultimately took this job although it wasn’t the highest paying job offer he had.
The plant manager at the Hershey plant was a double amputee and was unable to get around the plant very much. He had taken a liking to Ray and asked Ray to become his assistant. The plant manager died in a fire at his home and Ray became the unofficial plant manager in his late 20’s. At the age of 32, he was named the plant manager of the largest chocolate factory in the world.
Ray then moved up through manufacturing leadership positions at Hershey. When he retired, he was Senior V.P. of Global Operations.
Retirement didn’t last long. The Milton Hershey School asked Ray to reorganize its operations. He did this for one year and retired again. This retirement didn’t last long either. The Hershey Trust Company hired Ray to manage their extensive real estate holdings. He did this for two years. Ray is still active. He helped run a campaign for a new fire hall. He has also purchased the original trolley barn in Hershey and is refurbishing it. He is also still an active farmer.
When Ray looks back on his career, he remembers very fondly the number of people he helped while working at Hershey. “I really enjoy hearing of the success of those who I helped in their careers,” Ray says.
Raymond Brace is a native of Pittsburgh, PA, and received a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University. He is a member of Alpha Pi Mu, the National Industrial Engineering honorary society, past president of the Hershey Rotary Club and past Chairman of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association Board of Directors.
Ray joined The Hershey Company in 1967 as an industrial engineer and held a variety of positions in manufacturing, including Assistant to the Plant Manager and Plant Manager, Hershey Plant. From 1987 until 1997, he served as Vice President of Manufacturing. He was promoted to Vice President, Operations in 1998 and was named Senior Vice President, Operations in 1999. He was named Senior Vice President, Global Operation in 2004. Ray retired from Hershey in 2007 after a 40 year career with the company.
In August of 2007, after a few short months of retirement, Ray answered the call of the Milton Hershey School to manage and reorganize their operations and construction functions, as well as implement a capital control process. In July of 2008, Ray completed the task and retired for a second time.
However, in August of 2008, Hershey Trust Company called on Ray to become a Special Assistant to the President and Board of Hershey Trust Company. Ray’s primary role was to manage the Real Estate function and consult with the President and Board on the Chocolate industry and operations at Milton Hershey School. Ray has now completed that assignment.
Ray and his wife, Pat, reside in Hershey on an active 80 acre cattle farm. In addition to three grown children, they have six grandchildren and two golden retriever pups.