The PREMIER FARNELL PLC, was created from the 1996 merger of the Premier Industrial Corp. and the British electronics part distributor Farnell Electronics PLC. The Premier Industrial Corp. was a multimillion-dollar distribution company based in Cleveland, which grew out of the purchase of Premier Automotive Supply by Joseph C., Jack N., and Morton L. Mandel in 1940, with an initial investment of $900. Originally an auto-parts distributor, Premier Automotive was incorporated as Premier Autoware in 1946, with Premier Fastener, formed as a subsidiary in 1954. In 1960, the firm became Premier Industrial Corp. when its stock was first offered for public sale.
The next two decades were ones of growth for the company and Premier Industrial entered the lucrative electronics business after it purchased Newark Electronics in 1968. In addition to specializing in the distribution of electronics equipment, maintenance products, and firefighting equipment, Premier marketed a wide range of products including lubricants, welding supplies and fasteners to over 100,000 customers around the world. In 1977, the firm opened a $1.6 million corporate research and development center, where the company tailored its products to customers' needs. Premier consisted of 18 divisions by 1984, with electronics constituting half of its sales of $465 million with a net income of $48 million. In the 1990s, Premier Industrial continued to expand as electronics increasingly became the driving force of its profits. Premier's thick catalog became a veritable bible for industrial and commercial customers. Premier Industrial's focus on parts for repair and maintenance products, as well as distribution of supplies to manufacturers, concentrated on highly profitable smaller orders and was highly successful. In 1995, the company recorded its 34th consecutive year of record earnings.
In 1996, Premier Industrial Corp. was acquired for $2.8 billion by Farnell Electronics PLC, a Yorkshire, England-based electronics parts distributor that, like Premier Industrial, relied on dense, thick catalogs to reach its customers. The new company, Premier Farnell PLC, was headquartered in Wetherby, West Yorkshire, and became the world's third-largest parts distributor with annual sales of $1.6 billion. Considered a merger among equals, the acquisition of Premier gave Farnell access to North American markets, and allowed Premier's aging president Morton Mandel to resolve questions of succession, while ensuring the company's continued expansion. Cleveland remained the headquarters of Premier Farnell's North American operations and Morton Mandel became deputy chairman. The Mandel family, who were majority stockholders in Premier Industrial, stood to gain approximately $1.8 billion from the sale, and Morton looked forward to spending time with his philanthropic work. These plans were interrupted temporarily after Premier Farnell CEO, and architect of the merger, Howard Poulson resigned, leaving Morton Mandel to assume the his role as interim CEO. By 1999, Mandel returned to his philanthropic work and Premier Farnell's sales were $1.17 billion. In 2001, Premier Farnell sold off some of its distribution businesses, including the original automobile parts business began under Premier Industrial. By 2004, Premier Farnell served over two million customers worldwide and had sales of $1.26 billion. In 2005 Premier Farnell's U.S. headquarters were located at 7061 E. Pleasant Valley in INDEPENDENCE.