W. W. Grainger

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W. W. Grainger, Inc.
Traded as NYSEGWW
S&P 500 Component
Industry Industrial supply distribution
Founded 1927 (1927)
Founder William Wallace Grainger
Headquarters Lake Forest, Illinois, United States
Number of locations
  • United States: 330[1]
Canada: 165[1]
Key people

James T. Ryan, Chairman of the board

D.G. Macpherson, CEO
Revenue Increase $9.97 billion (2015)[1]
Decrease $1.30 billion (2015)[1]
Decrease $769.00 million (2015)[1]
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. The Company is a business-to-business distributor of products used to maintain, repair and operate facilities. Approximately 3 million businesses and institutions worldwide rely on Grainger for products such as safety gloves, ladders, electrical components, motors and janitorial supplies, along with services like inventory management and technical support. These customers represent a broad collection of industries including healthcare, manufacturing, government and hospitality. They place orders online, with mobile devices, over the phone and at local branches. More than 4,800 key manufacturers supply Grainger with 1.5 million products stocked in Grainger’s distribution centers and branches.


Grainger was founded by William Wallace Grainger in 1927 in Chicago, Illinois. He established the company to provide supplies for businesses. 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. By 1936 Grainger established 15 branches to improve customer service.

In 1967, Grainger became a publicly traded company. Grainger is a profitable corporation and has increased dividends to its shareholders for 44 years.[2] The company has grown significantly since becoming public and passed $1 billion in annual sales in 1984 and $5 billion in sales in 2004.

In 1996, Grainger launched its first website. The website was a simple page which linked to an electronic catalog. In 2015, 41 percent, or $4.1 billion, of Grainger’s revenue came from online channels, making it the 11th largest e-retailer in North America, according to Internet Retailer.[3]


The company currently[when?] has operations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Japan, China and multiple locations in Europe. Grainger established a presence in Japan by acquiring a majority share of Japanese industrial supplier Monotaro in 2009.[4] In September 2015, Grainger acquired Cromwell, the largest independent MRO distributor in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Leicester, England, Cromwell serves more than 35,000 industrial and manufacturing customers worldwide with more than 80,000 industrial products.[5]

The company also started an independent division responsible for a new retail website Zoro.com, which focuses on smaller businesses with a different set of service and pricing requirements from its traditional large government or corporate accounts.

A unique aspect that sets W. W. Grainger apart from other industrial supply companies is that the company has 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.

Corporate Social Responsibility[edit]

Grainger is committed to its corporate social responsibility efforts which include operating responsibly, valuing its people, sustaining the environment, and serving its communities.[6]

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.[7]

Grainger was recognized as one of the best suppliers of 2015 in multiple categories.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "W. W. Grainger 10-K". 
  2. ^ "2016 Fact Book". W. W. Grainger. Retrieved 2016-06-09. 
  3. ^ "2016 Fact Book". W. W. Grainger. Retrieved 2016-06-09. 
  4. ^ "Grainger Completes Tender Offer Bid; Achieves 53% Stake in MonotaRO Co., Ltd." (Press release). W. W. Grainger. September 14, 2009. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  5. ^ "2016 Fact Book". W. W. Grainger. Retrieved 2016-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Grainger Social Responsibility Report". Grainger. Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  7. ^ "Grainger - Best Companies to Work For 2013 - Fortune". Money.cnn.com. 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  8. ^ "VendOp's Best Vendors of 2015". 

External links[edit]