Fred Keller is the top executive at Cascade Engineering Inc., which serves the automotive, industrial and solid-waste industries. Under Keller's leadership, the Grand Rapids, Mich., company has grown from a small injection molding company with six employees into a complex manufacturing organization with 1,200 employees and 13 facilities worldwide. Included in the firm's arsenal is a 9,000-ton injection molding press, used to produce waste containers for the nation's largest waste haulers.
A materials engineer by training, Keller founded Cascade (www.cascadeng.com) in 1973, following an earlier career as a metallurgist with Pratt & Whitney. He built the company to reflect his belief that businesses should be sustainable and committed to realizing lasting and socially beneficial goals. His model for sustainable business focuses equally on three types of capital: financial, social and ecological. Through his focus on this model, and an emphasis on the potential impact each individual employee can make, Keller has created not only a successful business enterprise but also an organization dedicated to achieving broader community and environmental aims.
Keller's leadership has attracted widespread industry recognition. He is the recipient of numerous, high-profile awards, including the White House's Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership, Goodwill Industries' Employer of the Year, and a Distinguished Service Award from the National Governors Association.
In 2004, Keller was named to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Manufacturing Council (www.manufacturing.gov/council) and currently serves as its chair. The council, which meets quarterly, concentrates on enhancing the government's focus on manufacturing competitiveness, creating the favorable conditions for economic growth and manufacturing investment, lowering the cost of manufacturing in the U.S., investing in innovation, strengthening education, retraining, and economic diversification, and promoting open markets and a level playing field.
He serves as a director of Meijer Inc. and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, vice chairman of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids and chair of the School-to-Career Progressions Board. The Grand Rapids native currently teaches a course on sustainable business at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Cornell and a master of science in business management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.