Wesco - 100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

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100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

Wesco International

225 West Station Square Drive, Suite 700 Pittsburgh, PA 15219


—John Engel, Chairman, President and CEO

“What allowed Wesco to succeed for a full century? What distinguishes us today? The answer is our three consistent pillars: ingenuity, expertise and progress.”

In 2022, Wesco celebrates a major milestone: our 100th anniversary. This is a real accomplishment, and it is a testament to the dedication of our people, suppliers and customers around the world.

Today, as a world leader in electrical, communications and utility distribution and supply chain services, Wesco’s 18,000 employees collaborate with more than 30,000 supplier partners. We offer 1.5 million products to 140,000 customers in more than 50 countries around the world.

But this impact didn’t happen overnight. One-hundred years ago, WESCO (which stood for Westinghouse Electrical Supply Company) was founded as the distribution arm of the pioneering Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. In 1994, we became independent, striking out on our own, with vision and an entrepreneurial energy. In 2020, we made another bold move to partner with Anixter in a merger of equals. The union of WESCO and Anixter brings together significant complementary capabilities on a new global scale along with a new brand and slight change to the all caps WESCO name. We are now known as “Wesco.”

Today, we embrace the demands of a dynamic, virtual and interconnected world. But things could have been different. After all, the average lifespan of a U.S. company is just 15 years. What allowed Wesco to succeed for a full century? What distinguishes us today? The answer is our three consistent pillars: ingenuity, expertise and progress.

John Engel, Chairman, President and CEO
100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered
Lighting the Way: 1922–1956 100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

WESCO was originally created in 1922 as the distribution arm of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Corporation, a bold new venture by visionary inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse. From the start, WESCO focused on strategic expansion. By 1929, the WESCO distribution operations included a total of 19 wholesale supply companies, with locations in 60 cities. Headquartered in the nation’s financial capital of New York City, WESCO distributed all manner of Westinghouse products, including early industrial parts, lighting and radio.

During World War II, the parent company of Westinghouse grew to more than 116,000 employees, and in the postwar years WESCO launched a major push to support a range of new Westinghouse consumer products, including televisions, air conditioning, refrigerators and laundry machines, as well as upgraded electrical wiring and heating systems. In 1948, WESCO opened a new warehouse at 209 W. General Robinson Street in Pittsburgh that featured the iconic, illuminated Westinghouse ‘Ws’ along its facade. Business was booming. By the 1950s, WESCO counted 109 branches in 45 states, and in 1956 it shifted its corporate headquarters from Wall Street in New York City to downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the country’s leading industrial hub.


100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered


WESCO founded as the distribution arm of the pioneering Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, with a focus on Westinghousebranded lighting and electrical products.


WESCO opens its headquarters in New York, New York, with operations across 19 cities across the U.S. and revenues of $60 million.

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




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


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


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.


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

11 Lighting the
Powerhouse: 1957–1993 100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

Just one year after WESCO relocated its corporate headquarters to Pittsburgh, two brothers, Alan and Bill Anixter, founded a wholesale cable distribution business in Illinois named Anixter Brothers, Inc.. Drawing on their engineering knowledge and industry relationships, the Anixters saw an opportunity to support electrical wire and cable manufacturers across the United States, none of whom offered a full product line. The Anixter business expanded steadily across the country and abroad. By the early 1970s, still based in Highland Park, Illinois, the company would even open a warehouse in Rotterdam, Netherlands to test the waters in Europe.

Meanwhile, at Westinghouse, WESCO entered a period of institutional evolution. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Westinghouse kept pace with the growth of electrical components across U.S. industries. However, when the country entered a recession in the 1970’s, Westinghouse sold its major appliances business, while continuing to expand in new areas as diverse as rapid transit, bottling and nuclear power. Within this empire, WESCO continued to consistently perform well, but it was never a major focus for the parent corporation. By the early 1990s, Westinghouse’s push for diversification and profitability also created significant financial risks. Ultimately, this storied conglomerate that had once counted 172 divisions was forced to cut operations. In 1994, WESCO, now with around 400 branches, was sold to the private equity firm, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R).


100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered


WESCO experienced continued expansion of its electrical components portfolio across industries. New warehousing and distribution facilities were built to take advantage of developing U.S. transportation infrastructure, including new airports and shipping models.


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 U.S. and Canada sales teams with engineering knowledge in electrical wire and cabling.

Wesco Anixter


WESCO reorganizes to enhance customer focus within four U.S. regions, each with a vice president and general manager.


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


Anixter goes public on the American Stock Exchange.


Anixter brings its wire and cable business to the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (EMEA), starting in the United Kingdom.


Anixter begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

15 Powerhouse: 1957–1993

100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered


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.


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.

Mid–Late 1980s

Anixter expands business across EMEA, with a robust communications and network infrastructure portfolio. (Deep partnership with predecessor group to CommScope)

Wesco Anixter


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

Early 1990s

WESCO continues to focus on talent retention and management in a client-focused culture, attracting a highly loyal cadre of professionals.


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.


1991 Anixter goes global, expanding into the regions of Central America / Latin America (CALA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC).


Anixter develops its cable specification program, LEVELS, which sparks new commercial building telecommunications wiring standards.


Itel Corp is renamed Anixter to reflect its sole focus on the Anixter business.

17 Powerhouse: 1957–1993
Transformation and Digitization: 1994–2020 100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

The separation of WESCO from Westinghouse signaled a turning point in the development of the company. After decades of growth and institutionalization, WESCO emerged as something new. Independence from Westinghouse also allowed WESCO to diversify its supplier and customer relationships, expanding with a new, entrepreneurial energy.

Across the sector, competitors that had known WESCO as a quiet, captive distribution business suddenly faced a new WESCO determined to capture market share, with a groundswell of talent.

This also included acquisitions. Acquisitions were approached with a two-pronged strategy: first, to fill gaps in geographic coverage, and second, to add capabilities within specific industrial sectors. In this period, WESCO also pioneered a dramatic new approach to national and global accounts, whereby customers could receive on guaranteed price, regardless of specific location or sales channel. As a distributor operating at scale, this was a game changer. By 1998, just four years after the separation from Westinghouse, WESCO was purchased again—this time by The Cypress Group, which created the holding company WESCO International, Inc., signaling the true global scope of WESCO’s expanding footprint and ambitions. In 1999, the company went public.

Into the early 2000s, WESCO maintained a steady pace of acquisitions, and in 2003 became the first distribution organization to introduce the Lean management system to drive productivity. WESCO launched a new ‘One WESCO’ strategy to provide customers with comprehensive solutions that addressed their original equipment manufacturer (OEM); maintenance, repair and operation (MRO); and capital project needs by bringing together the WESCO product portfolio, service offerings, and geographic footprint through a single point of contact.

As this took shape, with more targeted acquisitions at WESCO, the contemporary Anixter was also going strong. Since its early growth, Anixter had gone public and expanded to new businesses in fasteners, security, data communications and utilities distribution across more than 50 countries—precisely the type of organization WESCO hoped to find as a strategic partner. In October 2019, opportunity struck. Private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice intended to purchase Anixter, and WESCO moved quickly with a counter offer. When the deal was done in 2020, the combined WESCO and Anixter—which retained the WESCO name—would represent the largest North American company in the industry, with 13 percent of the market share.

As the centennial year of 2022 began, WESCO launched a new brand image, with a new logo, and dropping the capitalization that had referred to the Westinghouse Electrical Supply Company. The new Wesco emerged stronger and more dedicated to its customers and people than ever before.


100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered


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.


WESCO enters the manufactured structures industry, bringing on Manufactured Housing Supply of North Carolina, Inc. (MHS).


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


Anixter enters the U.S. redistribution business through WireXpress, and in 1994 expands operations to Canada.


Anixter opens its Infrastructure Solutions Lab, where it showcases its network and security solutions for customers and suppliers.

Wesco Anixter

Transformation and Digitization: 1994–2020


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


WESCO secures its position in important highgrowth 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.


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.”


100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered


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



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


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


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


WESCO enters the broadband industry with the acquisition of TVC Communications.


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.


Anixter establishes a position in the security sector with the addition of Clark (door locking hardware) and Tri-Ed (security distribution) in 2014.



WESCO launches ‘one WESCO’ strategy to align products and services across geographies in a single point of contact.


WESCO adds 57 branches in western Canada and 20 branches in South America by bringing on EECOL Electric Corp.

Transformation and Digitization: 1994–2020


Anixter introduces the concept of ONVIF PROFILES, which become the security industry’s way to introduce new interoperability standards.



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.


Anixter enters the utility industry though the addition Power Solutions.

By the late 2010s, Anixter had longsince 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.


100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered


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.


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.

Wesco Anixter

Transformation and Digitization: 1994–2020

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


From the

Start 100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

Ingenuity 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. 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. Whether conducting onsite analysis or interviewing people coast-to-coast about their interest in electric lighting, this innovative instinct to serve the customer first was directly shaped by George Westinghouse himself.

Anixter, too, was created with a relentless drive to innovate. Ambitious entrepreneurs dedicated to business improvements and a culture of service, Alan and Bill Anixter brought a sense of new possibilities to business. When they founded their company in 1957, the brothers were not content to simply replicate standard practices. From the very beginning, like Westinghouse, they were on the lookout for opportunities to rethink the business from the ground up. In the 1950s, for example, customers could only purchase wire in full reels, even when they only needed a smaller amount—Anixter changed that. It also became the first cable and wire distributor anywhere in the world to operate with a real-time inventory system. These were major innovations, which established a culture in which improvements were not simply welcomed, they were expected.


100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

The Business-to-Business supply chain runs on a hum of information. Passing back-andforth, across geographies, sub-sectors, and industries, the flow of data from customers and suppliers is the lifeblood of the distribution business. This is as true today as it was 100 years ago, even if the means to capture, understand and utilize this data have

dramatically changed.

Today, Wesco is at the center of a digital transformation of the industry. For the past century, the company has anticipated and adapted to major shifts in distribution, which have developed into profound industry disruption. For Wesco, which was ready to adapt to these industry dynamics, the opportunity of digitalization is now.


Ingenuity From the Start

For customers, digitalization translates into greater speed and efficiency of delivery. For suppliers, digitalization represents a chance for customized, integrated services.

A dynamic, forward-looking company, Wesco has evolved through even the most radical transitions from analog physical systems, to the development of individual data centers to connected, cloud-based systems and platforms. Customers and suppliers across the world trust Wesco’s promise, with an appreciation that the modern company can draw on this century-long track record—even if the scale and scope of data are unlike anything before.

At Wesco, digitalization means building a digital value chain to serve customers and suppliers alike. After 100 years, Wesco is transforming into a technology-driven service organization operating at the intersection of global supply chains. Digitalization represents the culmination of technological innovation to leverage the data that flows along these networks in real-time to achieve disproportionate value.

Our People Matter Most 100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

At 100 years, Wesco now employs more than 18,000 people around the world. At this scale, it might be tempting to believe that the company is too large or complex to retain a coherent culture. In fact, however, the culture of Wesco is one of its strongest, most enduring strengths today.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Wesco culture is how close-knit it is. Across the company, employees routinely remark on the sense of camaraderie they feel—even as Wesco has embraced a hybrid, often virtual model in the workplace. Wherever its people are, members of Wesco regard themselves as members of a shared community, a family.


100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

The people of Wesco carry its legacy into the future. Driven and adaptable, they are also collaborative and comfortable operating at a fast pace. Why? Because the work matters. Wesco literally helps its customers keep the lights on, touching every facet of the modern economy.

Wesco puts a premium on helping people to achieve results they didn’t think were possible. When new ideas or approaches are brought forward, they are encouraged and tested. It is also not uncommon for an individual’s career to take shape across different areas of Wesco. The company’s size and capabilities, after all, can be an amazing asset when it comes to helping high achievers realize their goals.


Our People Matter Most

Today, Wesco’s top priority is talent. This means creating opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds at every level. Wesco’s customers and partners include more than half of the Fortune 500, as well as numerous organizations led by people with differing experiences and perspectives. This is precisely why diversity at Wesco is more than just an idea; it is a matter of competitive advantage.

The composition of Wesco’s board, senior management team and top talent across the organization is now more diverse than ever. And Wesco has an aggressive set of programs in place to ensure that this is just the beginning.

One Hundred Years of Progress 100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

For the past century, Wesco has achieved meaningful progress for its partners. From the rise of electrification in the early 1900s; to the expansion of national infrastructure and transportation networks; to the digital revolution of today, Wesco strives to improve the way we work and live every day and the company remains committed to delivering for customers in ways that literally shape the nation—and the world. Wesco’s mission is to build, connect, power and protect the world. The company is unrelenting in its pursuit to enable business to run more effectively, communities to grow more sustainably and people to thrive.


100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

One-hundred years of experience sets Wesco apart. It allows for a longer, more strategic perspective—and the understanding of what it takes to succeed. Wesco knows that real transformation comes from constant assessment, trouble shooting and optimization.

In this dynamic space, Wesco remains attentive not only to customer priorities, but to the trends that are shaping the world.


One Hundred Years of Progress

In data communications and security, for example, Wesco is helping ensure that customers have the information and access they need—while remaining safe and secure.

And in the exciting areas of renewables, solar and green energy, Wesco remains committed to delivering results as an environmental leader.

Today, we celebrate the possibilities of one-hundred years of progress at an unprecedented pace and scale.

100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

Wesco is unique. Today, it’s no exaggeration to say that the company’s global supply solutions build, connect, power, and protect the world. But what really sets Wesco apart is its people—and experience. As Wesco celebrates 100 years, it is worth acknowledging all the hard work that led here. Wesco succeeded through the Great Depression, the Cold War, globalization—and more recently, even a global pandemic—proving its resiliency and undeniable power of its scale, expanded portfolio, and industry-leading positions.

The future is uncertain. But Wesco is ready, with tech-enabled solutions across the globe. Its secret is the ability to unlock the power of big data at the intersection of supplier product development and customer demand. It’s how Wesco ensures it is providing effective and efficient solutions across the board.

The infrastructure that keep our cities running: Wesco is there. The transition to sustainable green solutions at an unprecedented scale: Wesco is there, too. Supply chains are changing, and Wesco is collaborating at every point along the way to add value. The company is ready for what comes next. After all, it’s done it before.

Today, it is time to celebrate the many entities that have come together over the past 100 years to form the new Wesco, making it possible for the organization to offer powerful solutions for customers. Ingenuity, expertise and progress. It’s how Wesco got here, and the talented, innovative and diverse people of Wesco will carry the company forward into the next century.



This book would not have been possible without the support of a dedicated team of contributors and reviewers at Wesco. This included senior executives and team members at every level of the organization. Thank you all for your time and support. Special thanks, too, to The Winthrop Group; and to the many photographers and artists whose work is displayed on these pages.

40 100 Years of Ingenuity Delivered

The history of Wesco spans a century—and it is just getting started. As Wesco starts a new, exciting chapter in its story, follow the stories of cutting-edge ingenuity that continue to propel Wesco forward.

To learn more about Wesco’s centennial, view the full expanded timeline and engage with other, interactive content, please visit the Wesco website at: www.wesco.com/us/en/our-company/history.html.

Thank you!

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