Executive chairman Andrew Permezel

Mechanical services contractor AE Smith has appointed a chief executive from outside the company for the first time in 116 years, with ex-Actrol and Honeywell executive David Willet moving into the position.

Outgoing chief executive Andrew Permezel has been promoted to the newly created position of executive chairman.

Mr Willet has a background combining engineering and management. His career began as a project engineer with Honeywell, where he was later promoted to vice president and general manager before leaving the company in 2004. Following this he held leadership positions with Pacific National, Chubb and Spectrum Fire, before taking the role of managing director at Actrol in 2011, where he was instrumental in negotiations to develop a national purchasing agreement between Actrol and AE Smith.

The fourth generation of his family to lead the company, Mr Permezel was chief executive  from 2001 until 2014. A graduate of the University of Melbourne with a degree in commerce, he undertook extensive training in the US before joining the family firm in a management role with the service division in 1991. Recently he completed the Owner President Management Program at Harvard University in Boston, an executive program specifically for owners and managers of private and family run companies.

In a media statement, Mr Willet said he was excited about the potential of what he and Mr Permezel might achieve in leading AE Smith together.