Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Ryerson (Joseph T.) & Son
Ryerson (Joseph T.) & Son

Ryerson (Joseph T.) & Son

Soon after he arrived in Chicago in 1842 as an agent for a Pittsburgh iron manufacturer, Joseph T. Ryerson opened his own store, which sold boilers and other iron products. Over the next few decades, Ryerson's company became one of the leading American processors and wholesalers of steel products. In 1926, the company became one of the first to offer stainless steel goods. By 1929, when the founder's grandson Edward L. Ryerson, Jr., became president of the company, it operated 10 distribution centers across the United States. In 1935, Ryerson was acquired by Inland Steel, the Chicago steel producer, which used Ryerson as its processing and distribution arm. By the late 1960s, the Ryerson division remained a major distributor of steel products; it was also the nation's leading aluminum distributor and a major dealer of plastics. In 1986, Inland Steel acquired another distributor, the Atlanta-based J. M. Tull. During the early 1990s, Inland spun off its distribution wing, creating an independent company called Ryerson Tull Inc. By the end of the twentieth century, this company had become the leading processor and distributor of metals in North America, with close to $3 billion in annual sales and about 1,600 employees in the Chicago area. Despite weakened market conditions, as of 2003 the steel supplier had managed to avoid major layoffs in the Chicago area, but it had become the object of considerable acquisition speculation. See also Inland Steel Co.