From Co-op to Retirement

Drexel alum Rich McCracken, retiring from job he began a co-op for 43 years ago.
Drexel alum Rich McCracken, retiring from a job he began a co-op for 43 years ago.

For his fourth and final co-op at Drexel, Rich McCracken, ’74, went to work at Ametek Inc. in Berwyn.

Earlier this month, 43 years after that co-op began, McCracken celebrated his retirement from that same company.

“I must have made some kind of an impression,” McCracken said of his co-op.

Beginning in December 1971, McCracken’s co-op took him to the electronics manufacturing company to hone his professional skills.

“It was just general accounting, just really entry-level stuff,” McCracken said. “Maybe it was a little more advanced since it was my last co-op and they wanted to challenge me.”

His first co-op had been in Center City at General American Insurance, where he got acclimated with working in an office and enjoyed taking lunch at various downtown eateries.

The second two co-op experiences were both with Dynaco Electronic Manufacturing in North Philadelphia. McCracken said he didn’t enjoy it much, but he’s held onto a couple of the perks from that job.

“I still have, in my basement, four of the speakers I bought, discounted basses,” he said. “They are, like, 5 million times bigger than speakers are now.”

The fourth co-op turned out to be the one that stuck.

“I think I experienced a very professional but personable group of people,” McCracken said of his co-op at Ametek. “We got the job done.”

Taking part in the Drexel Co-op program throughout his college tenure was invaluable for McCracken.

“The co-op experience, for me, was the only way to go to college because I had to fund my entire tuition and I had to work part-time,” he said.

In addition to his co-op duties, McCracken was a short-order cook at the Harvest House Restaurant at the King of Prussia Mall, working within its coffee shop mostly making sandwiches.

McCracken left Drexel at the end of the 1971–72 school year a few credits shy of his degree, which he completed in 1974. He wasn’t hired immediately by Ametek but it didn’t take long.

“I got a job with J.S. Canning Co. in Bridgeport, Pa. I worked there for almost a year, maybe 10 months, then got a call in February or March 1973,” McCracken said. “Ametek had a an opening in their accounting department.”

McCracken began on April 1, 1973.

“It was April Fools’ Day,” he said. “I think the joke was on them because I was a real lightweight. But I did the work and showed up.”

He showed up for more than four decades, turning his co-op experience into a full career as a manager with a company he’s seen grow “exponentially,” going from $200 million to $4 billion in annual revenue.

“I don’t think 43 years ago I was thinking I’d retire here,” McCracken said.

Now, McCracken has a nephew, Andrew Homiak, ’17, attending Drexel who is getting prepared for his first co-op.

“He’s bent on science rather than finance,” McCracken said. “I told him, ‘You’re going to feel like a fish out of water, but it’s an opportunity to talk to people and gain experience. You’re never going to know what it’s going to be, how it’s going to turn out.’”

Ametek still participates in the Drexel Co-op program, bringing in “a few students,” according to McCracken.

The co-op experiences offered through Drexel are “an attempt to become hireable,” McCracken feels.

“You get a taste for work ethic and find out if you’re a good fit,” he said. “You really get the opportunity to see a person and if they’d be a good fit. You get to do an interview without them knowing.”

Given his success and longevity, any Drexel student would be lucky to have their “interview” turn out the same way.