SEIZING AN OPPORTUNITY
The Great Depression had just ended and the world economy was slowly recovering. It was a time of opportunity and Dr. Harry Furlong was thinking ahead. Harry realized America would need steel wire products to fuel its recovery, so he founded Industrial Steel Wire Company in a small office and warehouse at Wabansia and Holt (now Greenview) in Chicago.
HELPING THE CAUSE
During World War II, Harry opened a small machine shop on West Lake Street in Chicago. The new company produced straightened and cut wire and machine parts for submarines, among other wartime requirements. Following the war, Harry sold the machine shop, but kept the straightened and cut wire business.
ON THE MOVE
America was moving faster. A new expressway was planned in Chicago to keep up with the pace. As a result, the company moved to 35th Place and Albany Street when the original warehouse was razed to make way for the future Kennedy Expressway.
Ralph Furlong, a chemical engineer, purchased the company from his father and moved the operation to a much needed, larger facility on Palmer and Drake streets in Chicago. The company’s revenue was $180,000 ($1.3m by today’s dollar). Harry passed away in 1967.
Further expansion was required and the company moved into several buildings near Palmer and Springfield Streets in Chicago. In 1976, ISW opened its first satellite branch in Bristol, CT.
ISW went through a period of rapid expansion. Branches were opened near Los Angeles, CA and in Cleveland, OH. ISW purchased Star Steel & Wire in 1987 and merged into its Chicago operation. Growth again forced us to upsize and Ralph Furlong purchased the 150,000 sq. ft. warehouse on Narragansett that is headquarters for the company today. The purchase of a west coast division of National Standard in 1991, greatly expanded California sales and introduced slitting and strip products to the company. Our Charlotte, NC branch was opened in 1994. By the end of 1996, our sales had grown to over $50m.
WISDOM IN TOUGH TIMES
During the recession that followed 9/11, Dr. Brian Furlong took charge of company operations as Executive Vice President. Through intelligent planning and restructuring, ISW not only survived the recession but was positioned to thrive during the recovery.
ANOTHER GENERATION OF SUCCESS
Dr. Brian Furlong became President and ISW continued to grow. The company now served industries throughout North America with stainless steel and non-ferrous wires, torsion-straightening and straighten cutting wires, carbon steel, stainless steel, and non-ferrous strip products as well as custom slitting, tension-leveling, and cut-to-length services.
MORE PRODUCT OFFERINGS
ISW purchased all the inventory assets of a major mid-west cold-heading quality wire distribution company and added Cold-Heading Wire to our growing product offerings.
80 YEARS STRONG
The small company that Dr. Harry Furlong started back in 1935 marked its 80th year of serving the needs of manufacturers.
STILL THINKING AHEAD
ISW introduced our 5-Star Pledge. It helped describe “the ISW way;” and defined the service that has always been the company’s foundation. As ISW moves forward toward more milestones, we will remain sharply focused on our customers’ evolving needs and we’ll always keep thinking ahead.