Founder Andrew Young McDonald earned his journeyman plumbing certification in Scotland, then journeyed to the United States in 1854. In 1856, he started his own plumbing business before enlisting in the infantry during the Civil War.
After the war, he returned to his business. In 1873 he moved from plumbing to manufacturing pumps, and built his first factory and iron foundry in 1877. McDonald entered the wholesale plumbing business in 1883 with a branch warehouse in Chicago.
The company was incorporated in 1888. The following year, McDonald resigned as president and his nephew, John Morrison II, became the next president.
The fifth generation of McDonald family members leads the company today; Michael McDonald is the current president and CEO. A.Y. McDonald employs more than 375 people in its brass foundry, manufacturing plant and corporate offices.