Catalyst Connection’s New CFO Sees Position as Opportunity to Give Back

News | Petra Mitchell| January 27, 2023

By Todd Miller

Whit Little, Catalyst Connection’s new CFO, has spent more than 30 years in senior management at multiple startup technology and manufacturing companies in the Pittsburgh region. In many of those roles, Whit was a loyal client of Catalyst Connection. Those experiences enabled him to gain a solid understanding of Catalyst Connection’s mission of providing consulting and training services to small manufacturers in southwestern Pennsylvania, accelerating revenue growth and improving productivity. 

His long-term relationship with the organization has given him first-hand knowledge of what Catalyst Connection does and how its team of talented professionals benefits manufacturers in measurable and meaningful ways. When Whit agreed to succeed Jeanne Straw, who retired after 34 years of distinguished service, he considered the move to be a way of giving back to the region’s manufacturing community because being a part of that group has given him so much fulfillment for such a long time.

Says Whit, “When the opportunity to work in a mission-driven economic development organization such as Catalyst Connection arose, I knew immediately that I should pursue it because the consulting and training services the organization provides make a tremendous difference in the growth and stability of many closely-held companies in western Pennsylvania.”

Whit became familiar with Catalyst Connection in the 1990s when a distribution company he worked for wanted to transition to manufacturing. That collaboration led to Berthold Systems Inc. developing cellular manufacturing pods and a quality control system for use in a wide range of industries.

More recently, Whit was a Catalyst Connection client while heading Advantech U.S., Inc., which used Catalyst’s expertise to transition the company from R&D to manufacturing by using technology developed in Pittsburgh to build and operate a plant overseas. 

Now that Whit is “on the inside,” he looks forward to working with his new colleagues to help small- and mid-sized companies grow, primarily by optimizing their use of modern technologies.

“If, as a member of the team, I can help companies in the same way that Catalyst Connection has helped companies that I have been associated with, I will feel gratified that I helped to make a difference in the economic vitality of our region,” says Whit.

He is highly committed to helping small- and mid-sized manufacturers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM), robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) so they can find their respective places in the domestic supply chain. He is also enthusiastic about helping companies with workforce development initiatives that allow them to hire and retain talented workers.

Remember Him?

If the name Whit Little sounds familiar, it’s because he has been an influential figure in the region’s manufacturing and technology communities. Most recently, he was chief administrative officer and CFO of PEAK Technical Staffing, an O’Hara Township-based company that places engineers and IT professionals with employers nationwide.

He also served as CEO of Advantech U.S., which commercialized an additive manufacturing process and related equipment for manufacturing printed electronic devices. The company received a Pittsburgh Technology Tech 50 Award from the Pittsburgh Technology Council in 2016.

Whit’s additional preparation for his current role includes being a consultant and executive coach, as well as CFO of RedMorph, , CFO of Brightline, and CFO, vice president and treasurer of CompuSport. Earlier in his career, he held executive positions at Pittsburgh Tool Steel, and Berthold Systems after earning an MBA at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and a B.S. in Finance from East Carolina University.

In addition to his involvement with area businesses, Whit is a faculty member of the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business. In that capacity, he helps students learn and apply best practices related to business consulting. Specifically, he coaches student teams each semester to help local companies solve business problems, assists teams with developing project plans, supervises teams’ data collection activities, and helps them make valuable recommendations to clients.

Outside of work, Whit serves on the board of the National Eagle Scout Association’s Pittsburgh Chapter. He also enjoys restoring his home to original condition. Built in 1910 in Beaver Borough’s historic district, he lives there with his wife, Kim, and near their four children Rich, Jennifer, Whittney, and Kinnsey. To get away from it all, Whit and Kim like to raft, hike, bike, and ski in the Laurel Highlands.

Whit knows that he has big shoes to fill. His passion for western Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector, along with the experience and successes he brings to his new position, should help  Catalyst Connection remain a valuable resource to small- and mid-sized manufacturers.