History Timeline

1800’s To 1950

1879 Washington Dillon and William Robinson file for incorporation of Northwestern Steel and Wire.

1883 Death of William Robinson.

1892 Dillon-Griswold Wire Company established between Washington Dillon and J.W. Griswold.

1902 Dillon-Griswold partnership ends after Griswold’s death. Washington Dillon returns to operation of Northwestern Barb Wire Company.

1903 Paul Dillon becomes plant superintendent at age 20.

1914 Northwestern buys former Dillon-Griswold plant and moves into new quarters.

1920 Washington Dillon dies. Paul Dillon is elected President by Board of Directors.

1928 First major fire in the Wire Mill.

1930 Martin Dillon is named to head subsidiary: Parrish-Alford Fence and Machine Company of Knightstown, Indiana.

1936 Northwestern begins to make steel in two small electric furnaces. Steam locomotives are acquired for intra-mill switching. Billet Mill and Rod Mill are installed.

1938 Company name is changed to Northwestern Steel and Wire Company.

1939 Second major fire destroys Wire Mill. Rebuilding begins three days later.

1940 Two 50-ton electric furnaces are installed to replace original 10-ton units.

1950 46 Inch Blooming Mill (“A” Mill) and 12 Inch Bar Mill are installed in newly constructed West Plant area.


1951 Two 150-ton Electric Furnace are installed to meet increasing demands for hot rolled bar products. Paul Dillon is named Chairman of the Board and Martin Dillon is elected President.

1957 20 Inch Structural Mill is installed in Plant 3.

1960 Northwestern Steel and Wire Company begins first trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

1962 24 Inch Structural Mill is added alongside 20 Inch Mill in Plant 3.

1963 The Sales Department, long operated as a single unit selling all products, is split into two Sales Divisions: Hot Rolled Products and Merchant Wire Products.

1967 #6 Furnace and building installed.

1968 #6 Pollution equipment installed. 250 ton Electric Furnace is installed in new building.

The 70’s

1970 #7 Furnace installed, building extended.

1971 Largest Electric Furnace in the world, the 400 ton Northwestern #7, is installed. Peter Dillon, great-grandson of Washington Dillon is named Vice President and Director. Clarifier and Drum Filter building is installed.

1972 Charging Bay is added to furnace building.

1973 Work begins on installation of 46 Inch Blooming Mill and 14 Inch Merchant Bar Mill.

1974 14 Inch Mill Reheat Furnace is installed.

1975 #8 Furnace installed.
14 Inch Mill stands, motor room, lagoon, etc. installed (Great Lakes Steel).
12 Inch Mill double line installed and old coilers removed.

1975 Baghouse Pollution system installed.

1976 A major expansion begins with the installation of a second 400 ton furnace, a new 14 Inch Bar Mill and a second 46 Inch Blooming Mill.

1977 14 Inch Mill north cooling bed installed. The first water cooled wall panel built by Northwestern in the Furnace Department. Computerized inventory.

1978 Wean-United wall panels installed in the Furnace Department and long barrel ingot press built by Northwestern.
#6 Furnace upgraded with panel water system.

1979 14 Inch Finishing and Straightening facilities added (Birdsboro).

1979 The 250 ton Furnace is scheduled to undergo conversion into a third 400 ton Furnace.
500 ft. west building extension and south bay added to the 14 Inch Mill.

The 80’s

1980 P.W. Dillon dies. Peter Dillon named President.

1981 Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new Continuous Caster Facility. The 150,000 square foot building will house two new concast machines: a six-strand Bloom Caster and an eight-strand Billet Caster.

1982 12 Inch Bar Mill revamped: stands, shears, pilers, etc.

1983 August 1, 1983: USWA, Local 63 Steel Division employees declare a strike at 12:40 a.m. The walkout, which affected approximately 1,800 employees, occurred when the Company and Union failed to reach an agreement on the economic issues in order to replace the three-year contract expiring August 1, 1983.
October 24, 1983: 85 day strike against the Company was ended when the Union membership voted 846 to 666 to accept the Company’s proposal.

1984 Opening of new Nail Mill Facility and Warehouse.

1985 February 18, 1985: Peter Dillon, formerly President, is promoted to Vice Chairman, and will become Chief Executive Officer on March 19, 1985.
Robert Wilthew is elected President and Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Board of Directors. Wilthew was formerly with Copperweld Steel Company, Warren, Ohio.
March 19, 1985: Martin Dillon (age 75), Chairman and Chief Executive Officer retires as Chief Executive Officer after serving over fifty-five years as an employee of the Company. He continues as Chairman and a member of the Board of Directors.
March 19, 1985: Peter Dillon becomes Chief Executive Officer.

1986: Robert M. Wilthew, President, is designated Chief Executive Officer. Peter W. Dillon, formerly Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, is elected Chairman of the Board and Chairman of a reconstituted Executive Committee of the Board. W. Martin Dillon, who continues as a Director, is named Chairman Emeritus.

1988 February 5, 1988: Northwestern Steel and Wire enters into an agreement with NW Acquisition Corporation pursuant to which NW Acquisition Corporation will merge into the Company, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions.
February 27, 1988: USWA (Locals 63 and 3720) vote in favor of ESOP proposal.
August 16, 1988 : Merger with NW Acquisition became effective.
September 28, 1988: NWSW approves the plan to complete the acquisition, modernization and production of wide flange beams at the former Armco site in Houston, TX.

1989 June 22, 1989: Northwestern Steel and Wire completes the acquisition of the former Armco Steel Mill in Houston, Texas.
October 16, 1989 : Groundbreaking for $25 million 3-strand Jumbo Beam Blank Caster project.
December 25, 1989: W. Martin Dillon dies.

The 90’s
1990 A new ladle metallurgy furnace (the largest in the world) is installed. 3 Strand Jumbo Beam Blank Caster installation started. February 20, 1990: Robert M. Wilthew retires as President and CEO. He will remain with the Company for a transitional period until the selection of his successor.

1991 Jumbo Caster started up.
January 1, 1991: Robert N. Gurnitz joins the Company as President and Chief Executive Officer, as well as a member of the Board of Directors.

1992 Kohlberg & Company, an investment banking firm, purchased 51% of the Company.

1993 June 11, 1993: Northwestern announces pricing of initial public offering. All of the common stock and senior notes were offered by the Company. No securities sold by security holders, including KNSW Acquisition Company, L.P., an affiliate of Kohlberg & Co., L.P. June 17, 1993: Northwestern announces completion of initial public offering.

1994 January 21, 1994: Robert Gurnitz appointed to additional post of Chairman of the Board.
June 8, 1994: Announcement that NWSW will sponsor a Family Health Center to provide medicalcare for eligible NWSW employees, retirees, and dependents. The Family Health Center is scheduled to open in early January, 1995.

1995 January 11, 1995: NWSW Family Health Center opens.
May 1, 1995: NWSW confirms its decision to locate a new concrete reinforcing mesh production facility in Hickman, KY. The Company will construct a 195,000 foot facility on 60 acres of land.

1996 January, 1996: Construction of Hickman Facility completed.
September 9, 1996: Richard D. Way is elected President and Chief Operating Officer, reporting to Robert N. Gurnitz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

1997 March 28, 1997: Robert N. Gurnitz resigns as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Thomas A. Gildehaus named as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. July 16, 1997: NWSW announces that it will proceed with plans to close permanently its rolling mill in Houston, Texas.

1998 Febuary 13, 1998: Northwestern signs letter of intent to merge with Bayou Steel Corporation.
April 27th, 1998: Northwestern Terminates Merger Discussions with Bayou Steel Corporation.

1998 Company announces Exit From Most Wire Products.

1998 Appointment of Frederick Rocchio as President and Chief Executive Officer with William Andrews Being appointed as Chairmen of the Board. Richard Way announces his retirement as of January 1, 1999.

1998 Thomas Gildehaus, Chief Executive Officer Retires.

1999 April: Company announces the sale of the Hickman Kentucky Facilities.

1999 August: Company announces furnace revamp. A new AC Energy Optimized Bottom Tap (EOBT) will be modified for the #8 furnace at Northwestern. It will still remain the largest EAF in the world.


2000 December: Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

2001 May: Announces closing of all Plants and will cease operations. Pays 1.4 million in bonus money to top management.

2002 May: Leggett & Platt, AKA Sterling Steel LLC, purchases parts of NWSW for four million dollars.

2002 July: Files Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

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