Don Kotula : Founder/Owner/CEO of Northern Tool + Equipment
I grew up on Minnesota's Iron Range, between Hibbing and Chisholm. As a youngster, I worked for my father, whose scrap yard recycled industrial debris, such as old train parts and mining equipment. The Range is three hours north of the Twin Cities and it has an up-and-down economy. That has meant that sometimes there was a lack of access to the right equipment, so people there had developed a make-it-yourself mentality. While I was still a teenager, I started my own business, refurbishing and selling used hydraulic components to loggers.
After earning a degree in finance and business from the University of Minnesota–Duluth, I came down to the Twin Cities in 1972 and worked as an accountant for Montgomery Ward and Northwest Airlines. I then took a sales job at Ziegler, a heavy equipment dealer. But in 1980, sales of bulldozers, loaders, and the like were slumping, so Ziegler and I parted ways.
I responded to the situation with a Ranger's resourcefulness. I dusted off my hydraulics knowledge and set up shop in my garage, selling cylinders, valves and how-to manuals for log splitters by mail. Northern Hydraulics was born! My family was right there along side me, mailing catalogs, answering calls, taking orders, strapping packages, and coordinating the shipping.
As our business grew, we began adding other products such as tools, tarps, water pumps, snowplow parts, and air compressors. In 1981, we opened our first store, renting warehouse and showroom space in Burnsville, MN. What we couldn't get from suppliers, we often made ourselves. In 1991, we launched a manufacturing business that builds bigger, tougher products under the NorthStar brand, including log splitters, generators, pressure washers, and air compressors. In 1998, we changed our company's name to Northern Tool + Equipment to better reflect our product offering.
Northern Tool + Equipment remains my family's business today. I enjoy working with my sons, Ryan and Wade. Together, along with thousands of motivated employees, we are able to bring the things we value to millions of loyal customers. We continue to provide a large selection of useful products at a great price while backing them with product expertise and customer care. We provide you with the tools to tackle tough challenges. It's what a Ranger would do.
Donald L. Kotula
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Northern Tool + Equipment
Our customers are serious DIYers, small-to-large businesses, the US Military, non-profit organizations and many other service industries that rely on quality tools for serious work. Our customers value ingenuity and count on Northern Tool + Equipment to provide the products, knowledge, and services to help them tackle their projects. Share YOUR #NorthernTool Project with us.
Over 40,000 products available for direct purchase from NorthernTool.com secure and accessible from any PC or mobile device, 24/7.
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StoresWe operate over 100 stores and we’re growing. Our commitment is to provide a first-class in-store customer experience. Stop by one of our Northern Tool store locations near you to check out our slection of quality products and services.
Northern Tool + Equipment is a family business that takes pride in our ability to equip you with the tools to tackle tough challenges. We strive to build lasting relationships and promote a fun and unique Northern experience.
- Know your customer
- Provide value
- Act with integrity
- Empower the individual
- Be entrepreneurial
- Have fun