MTS Systems Corporation Names New CEO

Jeffrey Graves succeeds William Murray, who became interim CEO after Laura Hamilton left in August as the company was being investigated for its export practices.

Roughly seven months after its leader resigned, MTS Systems Corporation has named a new, permanent CEO.

Jeffrey Graves will take the helm at the Eden Prairie-based test systems and industrial positions sensors supplier on May 7, at which time he'll also join the company's board.

Graves succeeds William Murray, who became interim CEO after Laura Hamilton left in August as the company was being investigated for its export practices.

According to MTS, Graves' appointment follows the completion of a search process that included both internal and external candidates and that was conducted with the assistance of executive search firm Korn/Ferry International.

Graves has 25 years of experience working with power systems and storage, electronic components, and advanced aircraft components. Since 2005, he has served as president and CEO of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based C&D Technologies, which makes and markets energy storage systems for the global standby power market.

Before that, he served in various senior positions, including CEO, at Kemet Corporation, a Greenville, South Carolina-based global capacitors manufacturer. Graves has also held management positions at Fairfield, Connecticut-based General Electric and Irvine, California-based Rockwell International. He currently serves on the boards of Limerick, Pennsylvania-based medical technology provider Teleflex and Hexcel Corporation, a Stamford, Connecticut-based manufacturer of composite materials for the aerospace and defense industries.

“[Graves] brings a unique combination of scientific depth, a proven track record of success in senior management positions at global companies in our sector, and significant experience in government contracting and compliance,” MTS Chairman David Anderson said in a statement. “These qualifications make him the ideal person to lead MTS into our next stage of growth.”

Hamilton, who had been CEO since 2008, left MTS last August by “mutual agreement” with the board, the company said at the time. That announcement came several months after MTS came under federal investigation over possible export law violations.

MTS said that in 2011, it lost an estimated $15 million related to the investigation and lost market opportunities, as the company was barred from bidding on federal contracts between March and September. The Air Force lifted the ban after MTS agreed to enhance its business ethics and compliance policies and procedures, expand employee training in those areas, heighten reporting obligations, and hire an independent compliance monitor.

Despite the setback, the company earned $50.9 million in 2011-up 174 percent from 2010-on revenue of $467.4 million, which represented a 25 percent year-over-year jump. Both figures beat analyst expectations.