Bob Ackerley has been a devotee of the unconventional and grassroots ever since he and his brother Lee founded Smith in 1984.
Smith began at a dining room table with two phone lines (and barely any other furniture in the house), as the Ackerley brothers and their wives braved reaching out to some of the biggest names in the young electronics industry. This startup took root fast due to the Ackerleys’ deep tech knowledge and market intuition (and a few bold and crazy decisions). Now Smith is a global company with 700 employees, 17 offices, and a consistent top ranking among distributors.
Before founding Smith, Bob earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from MIT and worked as an engineer with Texas Eastern Corporation from 1980-84. But he knew he was made for something more than a conventional career path – and he chased that vision.
“The world’s full of too much possibility to follow the expected path,” he said. “No matter how small you start, if you plant something innovative and help it grow, the results will be worth the hard work.”
He applies that philosophy to supporting future generations as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Graceland University and a supporter of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Bob is also the owner of Rio Grande Organics, the largest organic pecan farm in the United States.
His passion for sustainability, technology, and developing homegrown IT solutions keeps Smith and his other enterprises always fresh. Always growing.
The world’s full of too much possibility to follow the expected path. No matter how small you start, if you plant something innovative and help it grow, the results will be worth the hard work.
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