O’Neal Industries celebrates 100 years in Birmingham

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O'Neal Steel has been in the Birmingham community for a century! Photo courtesy of O'Neal Industries
O’Neal Industries was a Birmingham company from the beginning! Photo courtesy of O’Neal Industries

Birmingham-based O’Neal Industries celebrates their centennial birthday this year with a day of service and celebration. Check out the details here, plus learn more about this important company.

A 100-year-old company knows it’s smart to invest in Birmingham. O’Neal Industries (ONI) will celebrate its 100th birthday with a day of service around the Magic City. On September 20th, ONI employees will volunteer throughout Birmingham. Later that evening, they’ll hold a celebration. O’Neal Industries has a unique connection to the city of Birmingham.

A Birmingham success story

O'Neal Industries has employed Birminghamians for 100 years. Photo courtesy of O'Neal Industries
O’Neal Industries has employed Birminghamians for 100 years under different company names. Photo courtesy of O’Neal Industries

O’Neal Industries, the largest family-owned steel services company in the US, began humbly. 100 years ago, the company was founded when Kirkman O’Neal borrowed $2,000 from American Trust & Savings Bank to open Southern Steel Works. The first plant of many was located in Birmingham’s West End. 

From the beginning, Southern Steel Works, now O’Neal Steel, focused on family, quality, safety and on-time delivery.

O'Neal Steel has been a big part of Birmingham's manufacturing industry for decades. Photo courtesy of O'Neal Industries.
O’Neal Industries has been a big part of Birmingham’s manufacturing industry for decades. Photo courtesy of O’Neal Industries.

Slowly but surely, Southern Steel Works expanded. In 1935, the company opened a steel service center. Later, in 1942, they moved from their original West End location to 41st Street in North Avondale, where they still operate today. 

World War II was another turning point for Southern Steel Works. During the conflict, they produced bombs and gun platforms for the military. In 1949, the company changed their name from Southern Steel Works to O’Neal Steel. 

Expanding nationwide

O’Neal Steel built a strong Birmingham base in the early 1900s. As the company grew, it expanded into distribution. Emmet O’Neal, Kirkman O’Neal’s son, worked to diversify the company’s portfolio. He acquired steel services in Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio and more. These moves were critical to the company’s growth. 

O'Neal Steel's Avondale location.
O’Neal Steel’s Avondale location. Photo courtesy of O’Neal Industries

Craft O’Neal is the current CEO and chairman of O’Neal Industries. He says many of his core values as a businessman come from his father and grandfather.

“My grandfather understood the value of reputation. He was committed to maintaining consistent quality and exceeding customer expectations in terms of both product and service. That alone might have been enough to be successful, but he went further than that. He believed in building relationships, working with customers through good times and bad, and treating employees like family. That’s the foundation of our culture and a major strength of our brand today. I believe that approach, combined with aggressive growth strategies that began with my father, as well as continuing diversification, are why we’re about to celebrate our centennial.”

Craft O’Neal, CEO, O’Neal Industries
Cliff O'Neal, the third-generation CEO of O'Neal Industries. Photo courtesy of O'Neal Industries
Craft O’Neal, the third-generation CEO of O’Neal Industries. Photo courtesy of O’Neal Industries

In 2008, O’Neal Industries (ONI) was formed to manage all the company’s diverse assets. O’Neal Industries is the parent company of O’Neal Steel. ONI encompasses eight brands, including G&L Tube, Leeco Steel, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Stainless Tubular Products and more. Today, O’Neal Industries employs more than 3,000 workers in 90 facilities across North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

Giving back to Bham

Recently, O’Neal Industries has been focused on service to the Birmingham community. The company donated $30M to UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2018. Today, it’s called the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center in recognition of this historical donation. 

Craft O'Neal announcing his company's $30 million donation to UAB. Photo courtesy of O'Neal Industries
Craft O’Neal announcing his company’s $30 million donation to UAB. Photo courtesy of O’Neal Industries

O’Neal Industries will celebrate its 100th birthday in September. What’s planned reflects the company’s dedication to service. ONI employees will volunteer throughout Birmingham on September 20th, thereby giving back to the community that nurtured the powerhouse.

O’Neal Industries’ 100th birthday celebrates Birmingham’s rich history of manufacturing and good business. In the future, I’m sure O’Neal will contribute to the economy and growth of the Magic City. 

Want to say happy birthday to O’Neal Industries? Tag @bhamnow and celebrate with us!

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Libby Foster
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