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AZWIREANDCABLE Featured in Ted Magazine

Born on a Reel: A-Z Wire and Cable

By Mike DeFilippo

Jim Anixter is literally and figuratively wired.

The 69 year-old President and CEO of A-Z Wire and Cable delivers non-stop conversation while he zips around mountains of cable in his company’s 100,000 square foot corporate headquarters via golf cart.

Topics range from family, the wire business and his beloved Chicago Cubs, then circles back to the family business and the company founded by his father Alan and Uncle Bill.

“My father and uncle started on the manufacturing side of the business working for American Insulated Wire (AIW) They learned the business and saw a need for specialty cables and value added services. My grandmother Zelda leant them $20,000 and they started a wire and cable distribution business in 1956.

The company he refers to is Anixter International– a multi-billion dollar publicly traded Fortune 500 Company with locations in over fifty countries.  Jim joined the business in 1966. The Anixters grew their family business into the largest wire and cable distributor in the world. Anixter was sold in 1986. Two years later Jim left to start A-Z Industries with his partner Bob Zywicki.

Like his father and uncle before him, Jim saw an opportunity in providing the electrical distributor and wire and cable specialist with hard to find items normally associated with higher manufacturer minimums and low inventory turns. Utilizing their relationships with the wire and cable manufacturers, the partners started A-Z as buyers of special constructions, overstocks and discontinued items. The company experienced modest growth for its first ten years of operation. Things changed as Jim Anixter’s three sons graduated college and decided to join the business.

“I am the oldest of four siblings who grew up in wire and cable and we all were interested in the business, so we had to grow. I knew we weren’t going to grow selling special constructions and slow movers,” said Executive Vice President Darren Anixter.  We might hit on a good deal and make money on a flip, but there was no way to guarantee growth and feed everyone’s interest with that model.”