Dedicated to helping his family in whatever way he could, Charles Anderson went to work at the age of 14 while attending New York's Brooklyn Technical High School. Later, he worked his way through Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute by selling men's clothing. Graduating with a degree in chemical engineering, he became a research chemist with Standard Oil, then began selling chemical equipment machinery, eventually becoming sales manager with a unit of American Machine and Metals, Inc.
Instrumental in acquiring various firms, he moved up the ranks, becoming executive vice president in 1947 and president in 1956. In 1961, the company changed its name to Ametek as it moved into production of instruments, controls, gauges, springs, and electrical motors.