Anixter International: Wikis


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Anixter International
Type Public (NYSE: [10])
Founded 1957
Headquarters Glenview, IL
Key people Robert Eck, CEO
Industry Distribution (business)
Products Communication products and electrical and electronic wire and cable, and a leading distributor of OEM fasteners and aerospace hardware
Revenue $6.1 Billion in 2008
Employees 7,500
Website [11]

Anixter International (NYSE: AXE) is a Fortune 500 (#404 [1], Fortune 2009) company based in Glenview, Illinois, USA and founded in 1957. Anixter is a leading global supplier of communications and security products, electrical and electronic wire and cable, fasteners and other small components. Anixter has physical presence in 52 countries and has more than 5,000,000 square feet (460,000 m2) of warehouse space. The Anixter Aerospace Hardware division focuses on the distribution of military and aerospace hardware.

In 2008, the company had $6.2 billion in revenue with a global presence that includes locations in 271 cities in 52 countries.[2] The company operates with four major divisions:

  • Enterprise Cable & Security Solutions
  • Electrical and Electronic Wire & Cable
  • Fasteners
  • Aerospace Hardware



In 1957, two brothers started a business with a $10,000 loan from their mother. They had an idea that would ultimately change the electrical wire and cable business. Until that time, distributors and wholesalers had to buy cable in bulk quantities directly from manufacturers. Lead times were long, quantities were fixed and flexibility was short. Those two brothers soon revolutionized the wire and cable business by having an inventory of cabling on hand. Customers could buy just what they needed. Anixter Brothers, as their fledgling company was known at the time, offered customers something they never had before: service.

Anixter loading dock circa 1965.

Customers saw the value in that service, and within the first year the brothers had made $300,000 in sales. By 1966, annual sales grew to $10 million. The main customers were still the distributors and wholesalers. In 1967, the company went public on the American Stock Exchange. In 1968, the Blue Book was written. The Blue Book is Anixter’s manual that describes the way Anixter treats its employees, customers and suppliers.

In the early 1970s, Anixter decided that if it wanted the company to grow it would have to reach out beyond its core customer base of distributors and wholesalers and reach out to the end-users of wire and cable. As the ’70s continued, the demand for wire and cable continued to grow. To meet the demand, Anixter became an international company when Anixter United Kingdom was formed in 1972. Through 1976, Anixter continued its growth, opening offices throughout the United States and Canada. Sales for 1976 reached a record $150 million. Throughout the late '70s, Anixter ranked as the largest distributor of electrical wire and cable in North America.

Another important time in Anixter’s development started with the dissolution of a well-known company. In 1984, a federal court ordered the break up of AT&T. The breakup created new markets for voice and data products. Responding quickly to meet these needs, Anixter filled the gap as a source where end-user enterprises, the new Bell companies and new emerging installers could still find access to the necessary voice products. After the first BNC connector was sold, Anixter began to move into the data communications business, while still maintaining the reputation as the electrical wire and cable experts. By 1986, sales had reached another all time high of $650 million. In 1987, Itel, a holding company, bought Anixter.[3] On December 28, four years later, Anixter hit the $1 billion mark in sales. In 1989, Anixter, in response to customer requests, released the first version of its Levels program. The Levels program was the first-ever written performance specification for data cabling systems. Before the Levels program, customers had no idea whether the cabling system they purchased could support the 10 megabits per second Ethernet they were just starting to implement. In the 1990s, Anixter gave the Levels’ specifications to the industry standards bodies who renamed them Categories. The Category 6 cable sold today is a direct result of Anixter’s Levels program from 1989.

View of an Anixter office in the late 1950s.

Anixter’s global expansion continued in 1991 with the addition of an office in Singapore and Mexico City. By 1993, there were 40 locations throughout Europe, and its Latin American business was in the midst of expansion. In 1995, Anixter opened its Interoperability Lab in Mt. Prospect. To this day, Anixter is the only distributor to have such a lab, and it is still the only one of its type to be certified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Today, it is located in the Glenview headquarters and is called The Infrastructure Solutions Lab. In the ’90s, Anixter continued to grow. With the acquisition of Accu-Tech in 1997, Anixter expanded its presence in the enterprise cabling market and with Pacer Electronics in 1998, into the industrial wire and cable OEM marketplace.

As the ’90s ended, sales closed in on the $3 billion mark. In 2002, Anixter continued to expand its offerings through a series of acquisitions that would build its presence in the OEM supply and fastener markets. By acquiring Pentacon, a aerospace hardware distributor, Anixter could apply its core distribution capabilities in new markets. After Pentacon, more fasteners acquisitions followed: Walters Hexagon in 2003, DDI in 2004, Infast in 2005, MFU in 2006 and Eurofast in 2007.

Today, Anixter has 8,500 employees and 100,000 customers in 52 countries with revenues surpassing $6.2 billion in 2008.

Anixter's Technical Labs

Anixter's state-of-the-art labs serve as important technical resources to its customers. These include the Infrastructure Solutions Lab, Aerospace Hardware Quality Lab and Fasteners Quality Labs.

Infrastructure Solutions Lab

Anixter’s 4,000-square-foot lab located at its corporate headquarters in Glenview, Illinois, is a state-of-the-art facility that provides a unique venue for Anixter to educate, demonstrate and evaluate technology for customers and manufacturer partners.[4] The Lab incorporates the latest technology in fiber and copper network cabling, video surveillance, access control, Power over Ethernet and wireless products from best-in-class manufacturers. The Lab is staffed by industry professionals with extensive experience in a wide array of technological disciplines, which include cable testing and manufacturing, network design and implementation, software development, wireless, video and access control.[5]

The Lab began before there were standards for twisted-pair cabling. In the late '80s, Anixter discovered in early testing that twisted-pair cabling performance varied widely. As a result, Anixter developed performance requirements for twisted-pair networking infrastructure based on customers’ applications. These performance requirements were adopted by the ANSI/TIA/EIA standards bodies and renamed “Categories” (e.g., Category 3 and Category 5) in the '90s.[6]

Anixter Lab Firsts

  • Conducted rigorous, independent third-party testing of the emerging 10 Gigabit twisted-pair cabling solutions, and most recently, the smaller diameter 10 Gigabit cabling solutions
  • Discovered importance of cabling delay skew on Ethernet data transmission
  • Defined different performance specifications for twisted-pair cabling[7]
  • Developed and implemented non-destructive patch cord testing (previous test methods required alterations that rendered the patch cord unusable)
  • Simulated real-world network applications over copper and fiber optic cabling[8]
  • Received UL certification (only lab of its type with this certification)
  • Tested fusion vs. mechanical splicing techniques on data center fiber optic patch cables
  • Certified Power over Ethernet (PoE) midspan equipment to the then new IEEE PoE standard
  • Evaluated and uncovered transmitter variability in networking ports within the same switch

Aerospace Hardware Quality Lab

Anixter's Aerospace Hardware Quality Lab holds ISO9001:2000[9], Boeing-D14426, AS9000 and AS9100[10], FAA AC00-56, and NADCAP certifications.

Fasteners Labs

Through strategically placed Quality Labs, Anixter Fasteners provides routine inspection of customers’ products, full metallurgical evaluations and failure investigations. Quality Labs are backed by industry-recognized accreditations including BS EN ISO 9001:2000, BS EN ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:1999.

Environmental Record

Anixter has incorporated a wide variety of green practices in many of its offices and distribution facilities to reduce waste, increase energy efficiency and promote renewable resources.

  • Pretax commuter benefits that allow employees to pay for public transit on a pretax basis
  • Targeting 100 percent compliance to toner recycling in 2009
  • Improved cooling and efficiency with high-tech
  • Zero air-pressure warehouse ventilation system with 170 skylights and numerous side panel windows, reducing energy costs by 25 percent
  • Recycling of wooden reels and pallets, plastic spools, forklift batteries, florescent lights, copper and paper
  • In 2008, recognized as Top 50 Green Fleets as rated by Automotive Fleet[11]
  • Adherence to ISO 14001 standard


  1. ^ Anixter Profile on Fortune 500 List
  2. ^ [1] Anixter Website, About Anixter, Investor Relations
  3. ^ [2]Chicago Encyclopedia
  4. ^ [3]EC&M, 2001
  5. ^ [4]Cabling Installation & Maintenance, 2007
  6. ^ [5] Chicago Business, 2003
  7. ^ [6]Wireville, March 2003
  8. ^ [7]
  9. ^ [8]
  10. ^ [9]
  11. ^




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