history

Kirkman O’Neal started a small steel fabricating business in 1921 and quickly gained a reputation for dependability and performance. Kirkman once said in a 1926 interview with The Birmingham News, “We turn out each piece of work and each contract the very best that can be done, and we are determined that it shall be satisfactory.” That set the tone for the strong work ethic and business philosophy that O’Neal Steel and its affiliates would become known for in the years ahead.

Throughout the Great Depression, O’Neal Steel held firm by maintaining strong customer relationships, and by 1935 had become one of the South’s first metals service centers, focusing on serving customers whose needs did not meet the high-tonnage requirements necessary to enable them to purchase materials directly from the mills.

During World War II, O’Neal Steel became the USA’s largest producer of general-purpose bombs, which were used extensively in the Pacific. In recognition of its support of the nation’s military effort, the company was awarded the Army and Navy “E” for Excellence and two additional Citations for Excellence by the US government.

Emmet O’Neal, Kirkman’s son and former Chairman of O’Neal Steel, joined the company in 1946. In 1952, O’Neal opened its first satellite district in Jackson, Mississippi. During the next half-century, through corporate planning and acquisitions, O’Neal greatly expanded its operations with the addition of more than 40 facilities throughout the South, Midwest, Southwest, and Mountain states – making it the largest family-owned metals service center in the United States. Also during that period, in 1984, Emmet’s son Craft O’Neal joined the company, representing the third generation of family involvement in the business. He has held a variety of sales and district management positions through the years, and is currently Chairman of O’Neal Steel, Inc. and O’Neal Industries.

More recent growth has come by way of significant diversification of products and services, in addition to geographic expansion. One specialized area of growth was made possible by O’Neal’s 1997 purchase of Metalwest, an industry leader among light-gauge, flat-roll service centers, headquartered in Denver with locations across the nation. Next came growth through the development of multi-stage processing capabilities in 1998, and the opening of dedicated weldment operations in Monterrey, Mexico, thereby providing OEMs a reliable resource for large-scale and labor-intensive jobs that require specialized facilities and a high degree of manufacturing expertise and efficiency. The success and continued expansion of those operations has more recently led to the creation of O’Neal’s manufacturing division (O’Neal Manufacturing Services). And to answer the region’s need for a specialized facility dedicated to the highest quality tube processing and dependable service, O’Neal’s Tube Processing Center in Lebanon, Tennessee was opened in 2000.

In 2004, Aerodyne Alloys, LLC became part of the O’Neal family of companies, supplying nickel-based alloys, cobalt, titanium, and stainless steel in the form of bar, sheet, and plate primarily to the aerospace and energy markets throughout the US and Asia. In 2017 Aerodyne merged with United Performance Metals.

In early 2005, O’Neal further extended its product line with the acquisition of Leeco Steel, LLC. Leeco is a leading distributor and processor of specialized grades of high-strength steel and alloy plate, and serves customers throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. And in the fourth quarter of 2005, O’Neal acquired TW Metals a well-established service center specializing in pipe, tube, bar, and rod in stainless, aluminum, alloy, and carbon, as well as a variety of high and super alloys such as nickel and titanium. TW Metals has stocking and processing locations throughout the US, Europe, and Asia.

In early 2006, Ohio-based Ferguson Metals, a leading supplier and processor of hard-to-find specialty stainless steel and high-temperature alloys, was acquired by O’Neal as the company continued to expand its product expertise, inventory, and capabilities directed at highly specialized markets. Later that same year, aerospace specialist AIM International, located in Cincinnati, became a part of the O’Neal Industries, bringing with it everything from sheet metal, bar stock, forgings, and castings to small hardware in many alloys such as nickel and cobalt.

At the beginning of 2008, Ferguson Metals and AIM International merged to form United Performance Metals (UPM), which now offers the combined product lines and expertise of both former companies, still based in Cincinnati. Also in early 2008, TAD Metals, a service center specializing in stainless and aluminum sheet, plate, and long products, joined the O’Neal Industries. The addition of TAD extended O’Neal’s footprint in the Northeast and Southwest. TAD also merged with UPM in 2017.

In late 2011, O’Neal Industries, Inc. through its subsidiary, United Performance Metals, Inc., acquired Plus Ten Stainless, Inc., a provider of precision cold saw cut stainless steel, nickel alloy, and stainless plate. Plus Ten merged with UPM and operates a processing and distribution facility in Benicia, California in the San Francisco Bay area.

At the start of 2012, in a strategic move to solidify O’Neal’s position as an industry leader in the ferrous and non-ferrous flat-rolled market, and to provide even better customer service, Metalwest and TAD Metals merged to form O’Neal Flat-Rolled Metals. At the same time, the acquisition of Iowa Laser represented a significant move for O’Neal Manufacturing Services. The addition of Iowa Laser’s capabilities and expertise increased O’Neal’s manufacturing offerings and improved overall growth.

In July 2013, O’Neal Industries acquired Vulcanium Metals which operates stocking facilities in Northbrook, IL and Belfast, Northern Ireland. The addition of Vulcanium, now known as UPM, adds a full line of inventory in titanium sheet, plate, block and bar products and specializes in providing titanium distribution and supply chain solutions to OEMs as well as subcontractors across the world and offers comprehensive in-house processing as well.

O’Neal Industries is proud to remain a family-owned company today – with an extended family of dedicated employees among each affiliate company, providing the finest in quality and customer service. Indeed, our focus is on our customers rather than on Wall Street, which we believe is tantamount to maintaining our position as an industry leader. We invite our customers to grow with us as we meet the challenges of the future.  To see a video presentation of our history, click here.