The History of Nexans AmerCable
From Barbed Wire to Global Cable Solutions Company
Nexans AmerCable's story began in 1899 when the Washburn and Moen Manufacturing Company of Worchester, Massachusetts joined several other wire and barbed wire manufacturing companies to form the American Steel &Wire Company. The company, created by Federal Steel Corporation president Elbert H. Gary, was created with the intent of gaining control of the barbed wire market and raising prices. However, this strategy proved unsuccessful and company began seeking other sources of revenue. With the rising popularity of a new technology called electricity, manufacturing equipment was starting to convert from steam or hydro-powered mechanisms to electrical motors. The need for high voltage power cables spawned a new industry and the company began experimenting with producing mass-impregnated paper insulation electrical cables.
In 1901, Mr. Gary put together the deal-of-the-century with legendary American business titans Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan and Charles Schwab by forming the United States Steel Corporation (USS), the world's first billion-dollar corporation. Mr. Gary served as Chairman of USS until his death in 1927. American Steel & Wire Company became the largest wire manufacturer in the world and was a key contributor to the biggest integrated steel producer — manufacturing industrial wire, wire rope and insulated cable products.
In the 1920s, when electrical equipment came to the coal mines owned by USS, the company began developing power cables designed specifically for this rugged environment.
In 1923, the company began selling its wire rope and mining cable under the Tiger® Brand name and in the 1930's changed the company name to USS American Electrical Wire & Cable. Through the Great Depression, World War II, America's rise to global superpower and the baby boom, American Electrical Wire & Cable perfected the art of manufacturing Tiger Brand jacketed power cables for mining applications. The brand became so popular with customers that, in 1954, the company changed names again to USS Tiger Brand Electrical Wire & Cable.
In the mid 1970s, USS began a long series of reorganizations and diversification as the steel industry business climate changed. After 79 years of continuous operation in one location, USS made the decision to move the cable manufacturing part of the company to El Dorado, Arkansas, where land was inexpensive and skilled labor abundant. The company name was changed to AmerCable Incorporated.
After five years in Arkansas under USS ownership, the company was sold in early 1984 to Associated Materials Incorporated (AMI), which was founded by Bill Winspear in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Winspear had previously been president and CEO of Chaparral Steel Company before starting Associated Materials, a holding company for a group of diverse manufacturing companies.
"I've always preferred small companies," Mr. Winspear said in assessing his business career." I define a small company this way: I don't know everyone in the company, but I know someone who knows everyone in the company. Anyone can get to me pretty fast, and I can get to them. That improves the communication. That improves the efficiency."
Under AMI, AmerCable continued to produce Tiger Brand mining cables while expanding its products into the oil & gas market with its now-famous Gexol® brand cables. Product lines serving the transportation, industrial and military markets were also developed.
In 1993, after a nine-year stint as Treasurer and Secretary of Associated Materials, Robert F. (Bob) Hogan, was named President and CEO of Nexans AmerCable. Mr. Hogan immediately focused on raising Nexans AmerCable's level of operational excellence or, in simple terms, producing cable faster than anyone else without sacrificing quality.
"I believe speed wins every time," commented Mr. Hogan.
In 1994 Nexans AmerCable's focus on high quality products and service was recognized with an ISO 9001 certification.
In June 2002, AmerCable's senior management group headed by Mr. Hogan purchased the company from Associated Materials. The group sold off the other AMI businesses and retained Nexans AmerCable. The new ownership group immediately focused on expanding Nexans AmerCable's market positions in the United States and globally in China, Australia and South America, by targeting niche industries that require high quality, innovative products and value-added services. They also entered opportunistic markets such as the blossoming solar and wind energy industries.
Just as the company evolved from barbed wire to insulated power cables at the turn of the century, AmerCable has continually sought to expand its products and services into other cable-related business markets. AmerCable Systems, created in 2002, produces precision-engineered cable assembly and fiber optic solutions for harsh environment oil and gas/industrial applications. AmerRig,™ created in 2010, serves the oil and gas drilling industry with high quality service loops, field services and top drive recertification services. AmerCable is also the leading global producer of photovoltaic (solar) power cables and the only U.S. manufacturer with a dual-certified (TUV and UL) PV cable.
The company that was forged by steel and visionary corporate leadership more than 100 years ago continues to lead the cable industry in on-time delivery, engineering support and product innovation. Tiger Brand is the acknowledged high-quality cable leader in the global mining industry and powers mines in 35 countries. Nexans AmerCable's Gexol oil and gas cables are the industry standard for high quality and flexibility in harsh environments. Mr. Hogan's culture of speed and service has led to tremendous growth and well positions the company for continued long-term success. Despite its tremendous growth during the last decade, the company has retained its family-oriented culture and efficiency.
In February 2012, a new and exciting chapter for AmerCable began as the company was acquired by Nexans, the second largest cable company in the world. When the sale was completed Mr. Hogan, after 28 years with the company, stepped down as President and CEO. Rodney Cole, who had served as AmerCable’s Vice President of Operations since 1995, was named as the new company President. In April 2012 the company name was changed to Nexans AmerCable.
Did You Know?
The Washburn and Moen Manufacturing Company had been in operation 64 years before being acquired by the American Steel & Wire Company in 1899. When the company moved to El Dorado in 1978, it ended 143 years of continuous wire production in the Worchester area.
Gary, Indiana is named after Elbert H. Gary, who was a lawyer and county judge in Illinois before becoming a high profile corporate officer. The city was organized around one of Mr. Gary's steel factories in 1906.
After selling AMI, Mr. Winspear retired from business and helped fund the spectacular Margot & Bill Winspear Opera House in Dallas, Texas with part of the sale proceeds. Sadly, he did not live to see its completion.
Tiger Brand Wire Rope is still manufactured and sold globally by Bridon American Corporation of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.