W. W. Grainger

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W. W. Grainger, Inc.
Public (NYSEGWW)
S&P 500 Component
Industry Industrial Supply Distribution
Founded 1927
Headquarters Lake Forest, Illinois, United States
Number of locations
United States: 384
Canada: 185[1]
Key people
James T. Ryan, President,CEO and Chairman of the Board
  • Increase US$ 9,437.758 million (2013) [2]
  • Increase US$ 8,950.045 million (2012) [2]
  • Increase US$ 1,296.854 million (2013) [2]
  • Increase US$ 1,131.125 million (2012) [2]
  • Increase US$ 797.036 million (2013) [2]
  • Increase US$ 689.881 million (2012) [2]
Total assets
  • Increase US$ 5,266.328 million (2013) [3]
  • Increase US$ 5,014.598 million (2012) [2]
Total equity
  • Increase US$ 3,326.836 million (2013) [3]
  • Increase US$ 3,117.366 million (2012) [2]
Number of employees
22,400 [1]
Slogan "For the ones who get it done."
Website www.grainger.com
W. W. Grainger branch, Ann Arbor, MI

W. W. Grainger, Inc. is a Fortune 500 industrial supply company founded in 1927 in Chicago. Grainger's catalog includes such offerings as motors, lighting, material handling, fasteners, plumbing, tools, and safety supplies. Revenue is generally from business to business sales rather than consumer sales.


The company was founded by William Wallace Grainger in 1927 in Chicago, Illinois. He established the company to provide an efficient solution for fulfilling business consumers' needs. The business was incorporated as W. W. Grainger, Inc., in 1928. Sales in the early days were generated primarily through mail order via post cards and a catalog. The MotorBook, as the catalog was originally called, was the basis for today's Grainger catalog. Grainger headquarters are now located in Lake Forest, Illinois.

In 1967, Grainger became a publicly traded company. Grainger is a profitable corporation and has increased dividends to its shareholders for 36 consecutive years.[4] The company has grown consistently since becoming public and has passed $1 billion in annual sales in 1984 and $5 billion in sales in 2004.

Current business[edit]

The company is currently in the midst of a massive expansion,[5][6] which includes the remodeling of existing locations as well as the company's entry into the Chinese market. Grainger also has a presence in Japan by acquiring a majority share of Japanese industrial supplier Monotaro in 2009.[7] Grainger is expanding their product offering, in 2008 their new catalog featured over 183,000 products, and customers could purchase over 350,000 products on Grainger.com. In 2010, the catalog now carries over 400,000 products, and customers can purchase over 900,000 products on Grainger.com. This is partly due to feedback from customers that Grainger should carry an even broader supply of products.

A unique aspect that sets W. W. Grainger apart from other industrial supply companies is that they have an extensive, on-site, US-based technical product support for all of their products. Their technical product support specialists have hands-on experience and training, and have the ability to assist with the correct product selection, application assistance, installation and troubleshooting.


  • December 3, 2013 - Safety Solutions Incorporated[8]
  • August 23, 2013 - E&R Industrial Sales Inc[9]
  • December 17, 2012 - Techni-tool, Inc. of Worcester, Pennsylvania[10]
  • August 31, 2011 - Fabory Group[11]
  • October 14, 2010 - SafetyCertified[12]
  • November 18, 2009 - Alliance Energy Solutions[13]
  • October 14, 2009 - Imperial Supplies[14]


W. W. Grainger, Inc. supplies facilities maintenance and other related products in North America and Asia. The company operates in three segments, Branch-based Distribution, Acklands-Grainger Inc. (Canada) and GHC Specialty Brands.

The Branch-based Distribution businesses include Grainger's Industrial Supply division; Grainger's Export division; Grainger's Global Sourcing division; Grainger S.A. de C.V. (Mexico); Grainger Caribe, Inc. (Puerto Rico); Grainger Colombia (Colombia) and Grainger China, LLC China Distribution. Grainger distributes various supplies, such as material handling, safety and security, cleaning and maintenance, pumps and plumbing, electrical, lighting, ventilation, tools, metal working, fluid power, heating and air-conditioning products, motors, and power transmissions.

Acklands - Grainger Inc. is Canada's leading broad-line distributor of industrial, fleet and safety products.

GHC Specialty Brands is the result of Grainger's acquisition of Lab Safety Supply and several other catalog companies, including Gempler's, Ben Meadows, Highsmith, and McFeely's. It markets safety and other industrial products to customers under several brands throughout North America.[15]

Grainger serves customers through a network of approximately 369 branches, 15 distribution centers, numerous catalogs and direct mail pieces and several web sites. W. W. Grainger, Inc. was incorporated in 1927 and is based in Lake Forest, Illinois.


Grainger is the national founding sponsor of the Ready When the Time Comes program. Ready When the Time Comes is an American Red Cross corporate volunteer program that trains employees to participate in disaster response. Through its $1 million initial contribution, Grainger provided funding for programs in 16 chapters throughout the United States. Currently, 13 of those locations have been launched with the most recent having taken place in Greenville, South Carolina in June 2008.[16][17]

Grainger is also an advocate of technical education. Donations have been made in dozens of markets to dozens of different schools. Since 2006, one specific way this is being done is through the Tools for TomorrowSM program. This is a $2,000 scholarship for 2nd year students in technical education programs, and it also includes a tool-kit for the student upon graduation.[18]

Awards and honors[edit]

Grainger was named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2013, citing the company's generous profit-sharing plan, where employees with five years of service had 20% of their pay added to their retirement plan.[19]

Whistleblower lawsuit[edit]

In 2008, Grainger came under public scrutiny for allegedly over-charging government customers who had pre-existing fixed-price contracts. In a whistleblower lawsuit, former district sales manager Brian Holbrook alleged the industrial-supply distributor repeatedly over-billed the U.S. government on its supply contracts. The lawsuit asked that Holbrook be awarded 15 percent to 25 percent "of the proceeds of the action or settlement of the claim" for his role in the case. In the U.S., whistleblowers are often entitled to a financial cut of funds received as part of a settlement of penalty from a legal proceeding.[20] Grainger eventually settled with the US federal government for $70 million (US) while admitting no wrongdoing.[21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9MTc1NjY5fENoaWxkSUQ9LTF8VHlwZT0z&t=1
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "GRAINGER W W INC 2013 Q4 Quarterly Report Form (10-K)" (XBRL). United States Securities and Exchange Commission. February 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "GRAINGER W W INC 2014 Q1 Quarterly Report Form (10-Q)" (XBRL). United States Securities and Exchange Commission. May 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Dividend Analysis: W. W. Grainger, Inc.". Seeking Alpha. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  5. ^ "Grainger expands operation in eastern U.S. to meet demand.(Grainger Industrial Supply)(Brief article)". Purchasing. May 3, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  6. ^ "Grainger continues branch expansion.(Grainger Industrial Supply)(Brief article)". Industrial Distribution. July 1, 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  7. ^ "News Release - Grainger Industrial Supply". Pressroom.grainger.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  8. ^ "Grainger Announces Acquisition Of Safety Solutions Incorporated - CHICAGO, Dec. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  9. ^ "News Release - Grainger Industrial Supply". Pressroom.grainger.com. 2013-08-26. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  10. ^ "Grainger Announces Intent To Acquire Techni-Tool, Inc. - CHICAGO, Dec. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  11. ^ "News Release - Grainger Industrial Supply". Pressroom.grainger.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  12. ^ "News Release - Grainger Industrial Supply". Pressroom.grainger.com. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  13. ^ "News Release - Grainger Industrial Supply". Pressroom.grainger.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  14. ^ "News Release - Grainger Industrial Supply". Pressroom.grainger.com. 2009-06-30. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  15. ^ "W. W. Grainger looking to grow in Janesville. Walworth County Today. March 14, 2010". Walworthcountytoday.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  16. ^ "Ready When the Time Comes Volunteer Program Expands. $1 Million contribution from Grainger enables volunteer program implementation in 16 new metro areas across the country. American Red Cross. August 18, 2006". Redcross.org. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  17. ^ http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080620/YOURUPSTATE/806200344/1069/YOURUPSTATE01
  18. ^ "Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship | Community College of Allegheny County". Ccac.edu. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  19. ^ "Grainger - Best Companies to Work For 2013 - Fortune". Money.cnn.com. 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  20. ^ Doege, David (February 10, 2008). "Grainger accused of gouging government by whistleblower". 
  21. ^ "W.W. Grainger to pay $6M to settle whistleblower lawsuit". The Business Journal of Milwaukee. July 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-06.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  22. ^ Miller, James P. (July 26, 2008). "Grainger settles overbilling suit. Will pay $6 million; no admission of guilt". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 

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