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The company, originally called Wilson Steam Boiler, was founded by John Morris Wilson in 1882 and located near 19th & Pierce streets in Omaha, NE.
In 1893, a boiler maker named George Drake bought into the company. Later in 1897, Hugh Williams also bought in and the company name was changed to Drake-Wilson & Williams Company.
In 1901, George Drake died and another investor, Ernst O. Mount came into the company. The following year, the capital invested by Mount enabled the company to purchase the land at 23rd & Hickory Streets in Omaha, NE. This location is still home to our Rebar Division and our Corporate Offices. It was at this time that the company first incorporated under the new name of Drake-Williams-Mount Company.
In 1913, Hugh Williams’ two sons, Arthur (Art) and Walter (Walt), became active in the business just prior to the start of World War I. In those days the company’s primary products were steam boilers, tanks, smokestacks and breechings.
During the 1920’s, at the request of a customer, the company started making dragline buckets. This new product line, named “Omaha Buckets”, helped Drake-Williams-Mount survive The Great Depression as well as World War II.
In 1931, Hugh Williams died leaving Art and Walt to run the business. In 1955 Walt was forced to retire due to health concerns and Art, nicknamed “Buckets”, became President.
In 1958, due to dwindling demand for their current products, the company’s focus shifted to the fabrication of structural steel and being a warehouse supplier of steel products. It was at this time the name was changed to Drake-Williams Steel. During this time, Art’s two sons Hugh (II) and Mike joined the business.
Then in 1964, Art retired from active participation in the company and Hugh and Mike took over. They began building and equipping the company to be an accomplished fabricator of structural steel.
In the late 1970’s the fourth generation of Williams’ joined the company. Hugh’s sons John and Dave started to learn the business from the ground up. The focus of the company remained in structural steel and the warehousing of steel products, and at the same time they dabbled in the rebar business. It wasn’t until 1985 that they got serious about being a rebar fabricator.
In the early 1990’s, following the purchase of our facilities at 1602 North 11th Street, Hugh and Mike retired and sold the business to John and Dave. This new property required a tremendous amount of renovation, but provided the company with the necessary room to grow. Over the next few years, building renovations, additions and equipment purchases turned the 11th Street plant into a world-class fabrication facility.
Over the last 20 years, under John and Dave’s leadership, and with the dedication and hard work of loyal employees, the company has grown dramatically in expertise, capability and capacity. The development of new products to serve the railroad industry and the creation of our Mountain Steel Division have provided opportunity for even more growth and diversity for the future.
In 2008 Hugh W. Williams II published the book Steel Resolve – A Story of Endurance. The book details the dramatic history of the company now known as Drake-Williams Steel, Inc., and is currently available on Amazon.com.
On October 30th of 2014, John and Dave announced the change of the ownership of Drake-Williams Steel, Inc. from the Williams family to an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP). Four generations of the Williams family worked diligently to set the strategic direction for the company and to find and develop employees that could continue on the path they had started. Led by the Senior Leadership Team that John and Dave has built over the last two decades the new Employee Owned Drake-Williams Steel, Inc. looks forward to continued success for many generations to come.