About Black Industrial Safety & Supply Corporation



James A. Black Hardware Company was founded in 1893 as a retail hardware store. The family of present ownership assumed control in 1949. One day, while the new owner, Leonard Wechsler, was learning the business under the prior owner, Jim Black, a customer walked in for some piece of exotic hardware. Mr. Black climbed a ladder, picked a box off a shelf and presented it to the customer, who exclaimed, “I’ve been looking for that all over town. Yours is the only place that had it!”  Mr. Black told Mr. Wechsler, “I get that all the time.”  Mr. Wechsler then asked himself, “Why does the customer bother trying to find the product somewhere else in the first place?”  From that thought, we developed this slogan:  Save time.  Call us first.




In the 1950's, the company developed a strong marine trade. At that time its primary customers were steamships, mainly tankers and ore carriers that sailed the Great Lakes.

Black Hardware was successful as a ship chandlery until the early 1960’s, when two factors contributed to the dissolution of that market. First, the St. Lawrence Seaway was opened, and foreign ships successfully competed for the trade that Black’s customers previously enjoyed, and their Great Lakes fleets were slowly eliminated. A second factor was the construction of pipelines from crude oil depots on the coasts to refineries in the Midwest. As a result, Great Lakes tanker fleets were eliminated or drastically reduced.


Black’s experience in the marine trade eased its entry into the industrial supply market in 1961. For one, most of the docks to which it makes deliveries were owned by large industrial accounts, such as steel mills, oil refineries and other heavy processing industries. Black was located in the midst of a prime industrial market. In addition, Black developed a well-deserved reputation as a service-oriented supplier. This was out of necessity, since a ship that was going to be in port for only six or eight hours could not wait long for delivery of needed supplies. Finally, Black acquired rights to distribute many outstanding lines, as existing industrial distributors were reluctant to make the weekend and late night or early morning call required by the marine trade.


In 1964, the company changed its name to Black Industrial Supply Corporation to reflect its new emphasis. The company grew steadily in the south Chicago, south suburban and northwest Indiana markets. Black's high level of service was well received in the heavy processing industries, where down-time was particularly expensive. Black's conservative financial policy enabled it to withstand the volatile markets it served, while picking up business previously enjoyed by less financially sound competitors.

Building on our rich background, Black Industrial has incorporated the latest technology to improve its customers’ procurement processes. Inventory analysis and management, bar coding, detailed reporting and product consolidation are on the standard service menu.


With a legacy of personalized customer service, Black Industrial will continue to look for ways to help its customers operate better.


We look forward to greater growth. Our partners—both vendors and customers—are sure to share in our continued success.