History

Peter McIlroy

Peter McIlroy

Our story began in 1878 in the little town of Addiewell, Scotland. That was the year that my grandfather Peter McIlroy was born into a family with five brothers and sisters. The family was relatively poor by today’s standards and consequently, as young teenagers the two oldest boys, James and Peter, decided to move to the United States to make a better life there. So, they went to Philadelphia and found employment. After a number of years they raised enough money to send back to Scotland for their four brothers and sisters. Eventually, all six of them ended up in the small town of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, which is a mill town not too far from our current headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Because he now lived in a mill town, Peter McIlroy went to work in a steel mill where he gained some familiarity with steel pipe. He worked a machine earning five cents an hour for 12 hour days. He then found that he could work two machines at the same time, and asked for a raise. What he received was only a small increase from five cents to six cents an hour. He did not see the fairness in that and after complaining vociferously, soon found himself out on his ear. He now had a reputation as a “bad apple” and couldn’t get a job in any of the other local steel mills.

As a result, Peter ended up as a night watchman in a black enameled ceilings factory that was bankrupt. During long hours spent alone, his curiosity got the best of him. With his little bit of knowledge about pipe he began dipping small samples of pipe into vats of black enamel, and he found that, if he drew the pipe out very slowly, he could get a nice, shiny black coating on the pipe. Coincidentally, at about this time he heard about a product that was just starting to be used. That product was steel conduit.

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Lessons Learned During Our 1st 100 Years

A speech by Peter McIlroy II, given during the Industry Week Annual Meeting in Chicago on September 21st, 2005. Read the full speech…