A Century of Wire Rope Excellence | WireCo Corporate

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Press Releases

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Century of Wire Rope Excellence

Union Celebrates 100 Years

John Josendale
Corporate Communications
WireCo WorldGroup

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kansas – April 20, 2017 – Union Wire Rope, a WireCo WorldGroup Brand, is proud to announce its 100th year as the industry leader in the design and manufacturing of wire ropes and assemblies. Union products deliver exceptional service and unmatched support worldwide. In addition to oil and gas applications, Union Wire Rope products are used in construction, logging, industrial, and surface mining.

Union has a rich history dating back to just before the United States entered World War I. Commodity prices were steadily increasing and headlines such as “Oil Prices Bound to Soar” were typical. Industries were experiencing shortages of supplies and rising prices. The lack of wire rope had become so acute that drilling and production of petroleum products were threatened. 

Legend has it that a group of men were playing poker at the Tulsa Club, in the basement of the Tulsa Elks Club. One of the players was Henry Black who was lamenting that he had no wire rope to sell. He suggested that they supply the money and he would build them a rope mill. Black became the catalyst for the oil men who gathered later to determine the course of action. They purchased approximately 12.5 acres of land on the east bank of the Blue River in Kansas City, Missouri, and on May 17, 1917, Black Steel & Wire Company became a reality. 

In 1927 a new management team reorganized the company as Union Wire Rope. After the War, Union was still strong in the oil fields, but they began to seek other types of business. This led to the development of shovel and drag hoist ropes for the mining industry, which played a large part in Union’s continued, steady growth.

In 1958 Armco Steel acquired the assets of the Union Wire Rope Corporation, and in 1988 Union was acquired by WireCo WorldGroup, making WireCo the largest wire rope manufacturer in the United States.   

Today, Union remains an industry leader in oil and gas, mining, crane and general-purpose ropes with technical support unmatched in the industry. The Union Cut-Off Program, which is designed to calculate, log and track the service life of Union drill lines is recognized by contractors around the world as the best in the industry. 

Union Wire Rope – A century of wire rope excellence in design, manufacturing and technical support.


About WireCo WorldGroup

WireCo® WorldGroup's highly engineered products are recognized throughout the world and are used in a wide range of mission critical applications. Globally, WireCo® WorldGroup possesses a portfolio of many of the industry’s most powerful brands including Union, Casar, Lankhorst, Camesa, Oliveira and Drumet. WireCo® WorldGroup, headquartered in Prairie Village, Kansas, employs approximately 4,000 people worldwide with manufacturing plants, research and development centers and distribution facilities located around the world.

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