A Legacy of Innovation

Wesco is commemorating its 100th year, the second anniversary of its transformational combination with Anixter, and honoring all of the entities that have joined forces to form the new Wesco.
100 Years of Ingenuity



Innovation has been in Wesco’s DNA from the start—and even before.

The modern Wesco was founded in 1922, but the company’s roots can be traced back to the time of visionary entrepreneur, George Westinghouse (1846-1914). Acclaimed in his lifetime for his pioneering work in railroad technology, natural gas distribution, and alternating-current electrical systems, Westinghouse also worked to ensure that these technological breakthroughs reached customers all across the United States.

In fact, as early as the late 1880s, immediately after founding Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, George Westinghouse worked with regional agents of a new ‘Westinghouse Electric Supply company’ to provide natural gas and electrical power to cities, rail lines, and roads from coast to coast. Competition was fierce, and these distribution representatives worked hard on the front lines of the business to help customers understand the possibilities of emerging technologies. Whether conducting onsite analysis or interviewing people coast-to-coast about their interest in electric lighting, WESCO’s innovative instinct to serve the customer first was directly shaped by George Westinghouse himself.



Old and new photographs of solar panels and downtown Pittsburgh Right: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-det-4a23347 (digital file from original), LC-D4-71372 [P&P].

Top of page: Left half of image is a derivative of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USF34-057830-D (b&w film neg.), LC-USF34- 057830-D [P&P].




 

Downtown Pittsburgh Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection, 1901-2002, AIS.1971.05, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh.

1922-1956

Wesco: Lighting the Way

From its foundation as the distribution arm of Westinghouse, WESCO was positioned to be a leader in the supply of electrical and lighting products. In 1940, WESCO was contracted to light seven tunnels across the Pennsylvania turnpike, the first of its kind “Superhighway”. Not long after, WESCO expanded its portfolio to include consumer products including televisions, air conditioners, refrigerators, and laundry machines, as well as new electrical wiring and heating systems.




Westinghouse lighting display

1922: Wesco founded as the distribution arm of the pioneering Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, with a focus on Westinghouse branded lighting and electrical products.

1929: WESCO opens its headquarters in New York City, with operations across 19 cities across the US and revenues of $60 million.


1934: Westinghouse Commercial Investment Company consolidates all Westinghouse distributors into the new Westinghouse Electric Supply Company (WESCO).


Lauren Hill tunel

1940: WESCO contracted to light seven tunnels across the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which opened in October of that year.

1945: WESCO portfolio expanded to include Westinghouse consumer products, including televisions, air conditioning, refrigerators, and laundry machines, as well as new electrical wiring and heating systems.

1948: WESCO constructs a new 69,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Pittsburgh. 


1956: WESCO relocates offices from New York City to “Gateway Center” in downtown Pittsburgh.




1957-1993

Wesco: Powerhouse

Following the relocation of the central offices to Pittsburgh, PA, WESCO enters a period of institutional consolidation and growth. As the United States' infrastructure rapidly evolved, WESCO capitalized by expanding new warehousing and distribution facilities, including adding new regional automated distribution centers by the 1980s.

Wesco Powerhouse


1950s-60s: WESCO enters a period of institutional consolidation, with the growth of electrical components across industries. New warehousing and distribution facilities take advantage of developing U.S. transportation infrastructure, including with new airports and shipping models.

1950s-60s Highway

1970s: By the mid-1970s, long-time WESCO employees remark on the client-focused culture that supports employee development and growth within the parent organization.

1978: WESCO reorganizes: shifts to focus on four divisions, each with a vice president and general manager. The regions are central, eastern, midwestern, and pacific.


1980s: Headquartered in downtown Pittsburgh, WESCO continues to support the diversification and financialization of businesses within its parent company, expanding its operations and locations, including with new regional automated distribution centers.


1993: WESCO prepares to strike out on its own, as Westinghouse faces challenges. By this time, WESCO counts 250 locations and approximately 2,800 North American employees, which includes 300 people in Western Pennsylvania.

Wesco Headquarters


Anixter Connecting the World

1957-1991

Anixter: Connecting the World

While WESCO expands its operations and locations and prepares to strike out on its own from Westinghouse, Anixter establishes its roots in electrical wiring and cabling distribution. By 1975, Anixter had gone public on the American and New York Stock Exchanges and expanded its reach outside of North America. In the 1980s, following the break-up of AT&T, Anixter grows its wire and cable business to include datacom and telecom cabling inside buildings.



1957: Alan and Bill Anixter found Anixter Brothers in Illinois. With Alan Anixter as President and Bill serving as executive vice president, sales took off. Soon, Anixter recruited US and Canada sales teams with engineering knowledge in electrical wire and cabling.


1967: Anixter goes public on the American Stock Exchange.


1972: Anixter brings its wire and cable business to EMEA, starting in the United Kingdom.

1975: Anixter begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.


Anixter ad

1980’s: Following the break-up of AT&T and decentralization of the telecommunications industry, Anixter expands its wire and cable business to include datacom and telecom cabling inside buildings.

1986: (December) Anixter is acquired by EGI through Itel Corporation, a holding company.

Mid-Late 1980’s: Anixter expands business across EMEA, with a robust communications and network infrastructure portfolio.

1989: Anixter develops its cable specification program, LEVELS, which sparks the telecommunications industry standards known as TIA/EIA Categories.


1991 Anixter goes global, expanding into CALA and APAC. Itel Corp is renamed Anixter to reflect its sole focus on the Anixter business.




1994-2019

Expanding the Vision

The mid-90’s brought about a period where globalization and technology transformed infrastructure and supply chains, accelerating the pace of change with digitalization. With a vision to significantly expand its product portfolio, WESCO focused on expanding its presence in industrial automation, utility sectors, manufactured structures, and began offering integrated supply chain solutions. In this same period, Anixter had expanded beyond wire and cables to include fasteners, security, data communications, and utilities distribution, topping $8.8 billion in sales (2019) across more than 50 countries.

Man Solar Panels


DID YOU KNOW?

1998

The WESCO building on W. General Robinson Street, originally constructed in 1948, is demolished to make room for the new PNC Park for the Pittsburgh Pirates.


DID YOU KNOW?

1999

The initial public offering (IPO) of WESCO common stock is launched, trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “WCC.”


DID YOU KNOW?

2005

Forbes names WESCO as one of their 400 Best Big Companies, an honor we will receive again in 2006, 2007, and 2009.



1990s: Integrated supply chain services are first offered by Anixter to customers in the telecommunications industry.

1993: Anixter enters the US redistribution business through WireXpress, and in 1994 expands operations to Canada.

1994: Roy Haley becomes Chief Executive Officer of WESCO, with a vision to significantly expand its product portfolio and a focus on industrial automation, utility and MRO.

1995: WESCO enters the manufactured structures industry, bringing on Manufactured Housing Supply of North Carolina, Inc. (MHS). Anixter opens its Infrastructure Solutions Lab, where it showcases its network and security solutions for customers and suppliers.

1996-97: WESCO aggressively expands its presence in the industrial automation and utility sectors across the US, with the addition of Murco, Standard Electric, EESCO, Hamby Young, Nevada Electrical Supply, Ace Electric Supply, Power Supply, Diversified Electric Supply, and Maydwell & Hartzell.

1998: WESCO secures its position in important high-growth markets of California, Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and New York, through the addition of Brown Wholesale Electric, Avon Electrical Supplies, Tri-City Electric and Bruckner Supply. CD&R sells WESCO to The Cypress Group, who forms the holding company WESCO International, Inc.

1999: WESCO’s 18 corporate acquisitions over the past three years account for $1.1 billion in additional sales revenue. WESCO launches its IPO on May 12, 1999, trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $18/share under the symbol “WCC.”


Wesco Acquisitions

1995
Wesco acquires Manufactured Housing Supply of North Carolina, Inc. (MHS).

1996
Wesco acquires Murco, Standard Electric, EESCO, Hamby Young, Nevada Electrical Supply (NES), Ace Electric Supply Company and Power Supply, Inc.

1997
Wesco acquires Diversified Electric Supply Company, Inc. (DESCO) and Maydwell & Hartzell (M&H).

1998
Wesco acquires Brown Wholesale Electric Company, Inc., Avon Electrical Supplies, Inc., Tri-City Electric, Reily City Electrical Supply, Bruckner Supply Company and WR Control Panels, Inc.

1999
Wesco acquires Statewide Electric Supply, Inc., Industrial Electric Supply Company (IES), Liberty Electrical Supply Company, Inc., Whitehill Lighting and Supplies, Inc. and Coghlin Electric.



2002: Anixter publishes the original marine catalog, which becomes known as the “marine builder’s bible.”

2003: WESCO introduces LEAN continuous improvement program to increase efficiency and effectiveness across the company.

2005: Forbes names WESCO as one of their 400 Best Big Companies, an honor we will receive again in 2006, 2007, and 2009.

2006: Anixter launches Anixter University to keep customers educated on the latest technologies and standards.

2009: John Engel becomes President and Chief Executive Officer of WESCO, signaling a new strategy for the company. WESCO begins to expand the scale and scope of its global operations.


Wesco Acquisitions

2000
Wesco acquires Control Corporation of America (CCA) and KVA Supply Company.

2001
Wesco acquires Herning Enterprises, Inc.

2005
Wesco acquires Fastec Industrial Corp. and Carlton-Bates Company.

2006
Wesco acquires Communication Supply Corporation.

2007
Wesco acquires Cascade Controls Corporation, J-Mark Inc. and Monti Electric.

2008
Wesco acquires AA Electric.



2010: WESCO launches “One WESCO”, strategy to provide customers with comprehensive solutions to address their OEM, MRO, and Capital Project needs by bringing together our product portfolio, service offerings, and geographic footprint through a single point of contact. Anixter establishes a position in the security sector with the addition of Clark (door locking hardware) and Tri-Ed (security distribution) in 2014.

2012: WESCO adds 57 branches in western Canada and 20 branches in South America by bringing on EECOL Electric Corp. Anixter introduces the concept of ONVIF PROFILES, which become the security industry’s way to introduce new interoperability standards. 

2015: Anixter enters the utility industry though the addition Power Solutions. 

2018: Anixter doubles down on its commitment to security solutions, establishing a leadership position in APAC with the addition of Inner Range access control, along with two security distributors in the region. 

2019: By the late 2010s, Anixter had long-since expanded beyond wire and cables to include fasteners, security, data communications, and utilities distribution, topping $8.8 billion in sales (2019) across more than 50 countries.


Wesco Acquisitions

2010
Wesco acquires Potelcom and TVC Communications, LLC.

2011
Wesco acquires RECO, LLC, Intelix, Brews Supply, Ltd. and RS Electronics.

2012
Wesco acquires Trydor Industries (Canada), Ltd., Conney Safety Products, LLC and EECOL Electric Corp.

2014
Wesco acquires LaPrairie, Inc., Hazmasters, Inc. and Hi-Line Utility.

2015
Wesco acquires Hill Country Electric Supply and Needham Electric Supply.

2016
Wesco acquires Atlanta Electrical Distributors, LLC.

2019
Wesco acquires OSRAM’s Sylvania Lighting Solutions (SLS), now known as WESCO Energy Solutions.




Pittsburgh city skyline with Wesco corporate office building.

2020-Present

Transformation and Digitization

WESCO manages through the onset of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, shifting operations to manage remotely where possible and ensuring employee safety, as well as stakeholder responsiveness, around the world.


In 2020, WESCO acquires Anixter International Inc., a leading global distributor of network & security solutions, electrical & electronic solutions, and utility power solutions. This transformational merger results in a combined company with a comprehensive and balanced portfolio that unites WESCO’s capabilities in industrial, construction, and utility with Anixter’s expertise in data communications, security, and wire and cable.

It soon becomes clear that the companies’ complimentary capabilities create new possibilities up-and-down the value chain. WESCO commits to the merger with a sense of mutual respect, with its team eager to learn and integrate. Anixter also brings a new a global presence to the company. Together, the companies double down on digitalization and tools to improve efficiency for customers.

“In combining two industry leaders with successful track records, we are creating the premier electrical, communications and utility distribution and supply chain solutions company in the world. This is a transformational combination that provides substantial value creation for our customers, supplier partners, employees, investors, and the communities in which we operate."

- John Engel, Wesco CEO

Transformation and Digitization John Engel




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