A Tribute to Anixter Founder – Bill Anixter 

Armed with a loan from his mother, Bill Anixter, along with his brother Alan, would forever change the wire and cable industry.

After starting Anixter Bros. together in 1957, Bill would oversee the transformation of Anixter Bros. into a global company.

William Anixter, one of Anixter’s founders, died on May 8, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 92 years old.

After returning from World War II and settling in Highland Park, IL, to raise a family, William Anixter, along with his brother Alan, took a $10,000 loan from their mother, Zelda, and started what would be Anixter Bros., the world’s first wire and cable distribution company with a real-time inventory system. With a hub-and-spoke warehouse network that predated Amazon by decades, William Anixter helped to create a company that is now a multibillion dollar distributor with locations in more than 50 countries.

“By pushing the boundaries and taking risks, Bill was able to transform the industry and revolutionize the distribution model,” said Anixter CEO and president, Bob Eck. “Thanks to his vision and adherence to the beliefs of providing a unique value and exceptional service, Anixter has been able to grow and thrive since those early years.”

As a founding member of Anixter, he oversaw the growth of a company from that $10,000 loan into one that had 2,000 employees and 100 global locations and $500 million in sales before Bill and his brother sold it in 1986. Even as the company grew, Bill maintained that it was a family company and that every employee was part of the family.

Even after the sale, Bill was elated with Anixter’s growth. “My dad was incredibly proud of Anixter’s success,” said Julie Anixter, Bill’s daughter. 

A lasting legacy of Bill’s and the original Anixter Bros. team is the culture of service that Bill helped to create. This is most notably found in Anixter’s Blue Book, which presents the ethos and beliefs that define Anixter’s business style. By emphasizing customer service and redefining corporate hierarchy, the company’s success was found in brothers’ leadership style.

"He had no pretensions about him at all," said former Highland Park Mayor Ray Geraci, who oversaw advertising at Anixter for more than a quarter century, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "I really feel the thing that distinguished Bill the most was that he was a people person and was really down to earth. He was a character who socialized with everybody."

A Tribute to Anixter Founder Bill Anixter  mage
Bill (right) and his brother Alan (left) during the early days of Anixter.

 By pushing the boundaries and taking risks, Bill was able to transform the industry and revolutionize the distribution model. 

Bob Eck, Anixter CEO and president