Serious do-it-yourselfers put their kids to sleep with bedtime stories from the catalogs of Northern Tool & Equipment. Stocked with more than 40,000 products, the family-owned company offers an assortment of heavy-duty tools as well as construction and industrial equipment (such as air compressors, power generators, and pressure washers). Its primary customers include building contractors, automotive shops, and the do-it-yourself crowd. Northern Tool rings up revenues via catalogs (biggest sales channel), websites, and some 85 retail stores in more than 15 states. Northern Tool & Equipment was founded in 1981 as a mail-order shop by its CEO Donald Kotula. It recently expanded into sporting goods retail.
Minnesota-based Northern Tool & Equipment operates stores in 17 states. Its largest markets are Texas, Florida, and North Carolina, which together are home to nearly half of the company's stores. Northern Tool also serves customers outside the US. The company ships to most countries around the world, including Canada, Mexico, and the UK.
The hardware retailer appeals to shoppers with a wide array of products that include over 1,500 brands, such as Briggs & Stratton, Dewalt, Honda, Milwaukee, and Torin Big Red. In addition to selling name-brand tools and other products, the company is the exclusive distributor of NorthStar brand equipment, which it makes at its 250,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Faribault, Minnesota.
The firm also operates two newly-acquired sporting goods brands.
Expanding its retail presence in the South and Midwest, Northern Tool continues to steadily build its store network. In 2012 it entered two new states: Mississippi and Nebraska, and continued to add to its store count in Texas. Previously, the chain strengthened its existing base in Texas -- where there are now more than 15 locations -- opening its first store in Austin in 2011.
Adding to its holdings, Northern Tool in late 2012 acquired direct merchants The Sportsman's Guide and The Golf Warehouse.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Extending its reach beyond hardware, Northern Tool & Equipment in November 2012 acquired two sporting goods retailers -- The Sportsman's Guide and The Golf Warehouse -- from Redcats USA for $215 million. The twin purchases will give Northern Tool approximately $1.5 billion in annual sales. Both companies continue to operate as stand-alone brands to capitalize on their brand equity.
Northern Tool & Equipment is owned by the Kotula family, including Donald Kotula, founder and CEO of the business.