The Passing of Bill McNair
March 6, 2017

We were deeply saddened to learn on Saturday, February 11 that Bill McNair had passed away. Bill was the son of Lyle and Nadine McNair, who started St. Louis Cold Drawn in 1971. Bill graduated from St. Louis Priory School in 1966 and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York before serving in the United States Navy and retiring as a Lieutenant Commander. Bill then worked for St. Louis Cold Drawn for more than four decades before passing leadership on to his children.

St. Louis Cold Drawn began in a small industrial garage near the St. Louis airport, with only a handful of customers and two employees—Lyle and Nadine. It started off as the smallest steel-drawing company in the country, with an annual production capacity of just 2,000 tons. Under Bill’s leadership, it advanced to the third-largest. This growth was a result of Bill’s technological expertise and innovations in business practice. Bill opened new sources for material all over the world, buying steel from companies in Britain, Germany, Japan, Spain, and Brazil. He also opened new locations for production. Besides opening plants in West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Canada, Bill made the decision to develop and invest in a steel-drawing facility in Monterrey, Mexico. That facility, ATP, has become the largest cold-drawer in the country and is a point of pride for St. Louis Cold Drawn.

Bill always loved doing things with his hands and figuring out how things worked. His high school classmates remarked that he was “an accurate marksman, a skilled boatsman,” pursuits he enjoyed throughout his entire life and shared with his children. While still a high school student, Bill built his own airplane, then took bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at RPI and became a pilot. Bill worked with Danieli to help design the twenty-ton drawing line, which is the largest high-speed drawing line in the world. He loved solving problems and developing mechanical advancements, and St. Louis Cold Drawn gave him a chance to do what he loved every day. Even in retirement, Bill was often found walking through the plant or chatting with team members in the office.

His high school yearbook described Bill at age seventeen as a “rare combination of humor, talent, intelligence,” a person with “unfaltering good nature.” Countless friends, family, and coworkers saw those same qualities in Bill over the decades that followed. His funeral was a testament to his passion for the company and for all of the personal relationships he developed there.