Obituary: William R. Anixter – 1923-2016

William Anixter, who co-founded the electrical industry’s largest wire and cable specialty distributor along with his brother Alan, passed away on May 8. According to his obituary in the Chicago Tribune, he is survived by his wife, Nancy Ansorg Anixter;  his six children -- Greg Anixter, Julie Anixter, Carol Anixter, Amy Anixter Scott, Mari Anixter and Jason Max Anixter; and his grandchildren Jason William Anixter, Ashley Anixter, Ben Forgan, Kylie Forgan, Audrey Scott, Allegra Smith, and Gigi Smith.  He was the son of Julius “Loving Putty” and Zelda Anixter.

After serving under General George Patton in World War II and winning a Purple Heart, he and his brother Alan started up Anixter brothers with a $10,000 loan from their mother, Zelda. The Chicago Tribune obituary also said: “Anixter Brothers was the world’s first wire & cable distribution company with a real-time inventory system and hub and spoke network warehouse system that pre-dated Amazon by decades.

The company went public in 1967 and grew to approximately 2,000 employees, more than 100 global locations and over $700 million in sales before Bill and his brother sold it to Sam Zell in 1986.  The success of the company was based on the renowned culture of service that they provided to their customers as well as a unique concept of employee relations he and his brother initiated from the very start of the company.  Bill always maintained that Anixter Bros. was a “family company” and every employee was part of the family.”

Anixter was also chairman of the board of A-Z Wire & Cable, working with nephew, Jim Anixter, and his good friend Ray Geraci. Click here for the complete Chicago Tribune obituary.

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