Harbor Freight Tools

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Harbor Freight Tools
Company typePrivate
IndustryRetail
Founded1977; 47 years ago (1977)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
FoundersEric Smidt and Allan Smidt [1]
HeadquartersCalabasas, California, U.S.
Number of locations
1,400+
Area served
United States
Key people
Eric Smidt (Owner and CEO) and Allan Mutchnik (President)[2]
ProductsTools
RevenueIncrease $7 billion (2023)[3]
Number of employees
26,000
Websitewww.harborfreight.com

Harbor Freight Tools, commonly referred to as Harbor Freight, is an American privately held tool and equipment retailer, headquartered in Calabasas, California. It operates a chain of retail stores, as well as an e-commerce business. The company employs over 26,000 people in the United States,[3] and has over 1,400 locations in 48 states.[4][5]

History[edit]

In 1977,[1] Eric Smidt and his father, Allan Smidt, started Harbor Freight and Salvage in a small building in North Hollywood, California. The company began as a mail order tool business that dealt with liquidated and returned merchandise. As the business grew, its name was changed to Harbor Freight Tools. In 1985, Eric Smidt was named president of the company at age 25; he served under that title until 1999, when he became chief executive officer.[6] From the mid-1980s to 2010 Harbor Freight was headquartered in nearby Camarillo, California.

Retail stores[edit]

First Harbor Freight Tools retail store, located in Lexington, Kentucky

In 1980, Harbor Freight Tools opened its first retail store in Lexington, Kentucky, to sell returned merchandise from its mail order business. The original location was at 1387 East New Circle Road. It later moved to 1301 Winchester Road, Suite 213. The venture proved successful, and Harbor Freight Tools began to open stores across the United States. As of 2023, Harbor Freight Tools operates over 1,400 retail stores in 48 states.[5]

In January 2024, Harbor Freight Tools announced its plan to open a new store in Batavia, Illinois.[7]

Exclusive brands[edit]

Harbor Freight sells many tools, accessories, and numerous other types of product under in-house brands, sourced directly from manufacturers.[1] These include:

  • Admiral
  • Apache
  • Ames Instruments
  • Armstrong
  • Bauer
  • Bunker Hill Security
  • Central Pneumatic
  • Cen-Tec
  • Chicago Electric
  • Daytona
  • Drill Master
  • Gordon
  • Hercules
  • Icon
  • Maddox
  • Predator
  • Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Pro
  • Quinn
  • Titanium
  • Union Safe Company
  • U.S. General
  • Vulcan
  • Warrior

Quality assurance[edit]

Harbor Freight tests their tools in their own quality assurance facility located in Camarillo, California.[citation needed]

Website[edit]

Harbor Freight's website went online in 1997.[8] It had a modest catalog of products, a brief "About Us" section and an order form for the printed catalog. There were also links to a customer service page with delivery times and return policies. In all, the original site had 10 landing pages. The current Harbor Freight website has over 79,000 indexed pages.[9] The Harbor Freight website had over 31 million monthly visits as of 2023, mostly within the United States, according to Similarweb.[10]

Corporate affairs[edit]

Harbor Freight Tools Corporate Headquarters in Calabasas, California

Harbor Freight Tools is headquartered in Calabasas, California. Harbor Freight has distribution space in Camarillo, California; Moreno Valley, California; Dillon, South Carolina; and Joliet, Illinois.[11] It closed a distribution facility in Oxnard, California, in early 2013.

On April 4, 2013, Harbor Freight Tools announced a $75 million expansion project for the Dillon distribution center, which opened on November 22, 2015, adding 1 million square feet to the facility and 200 new jobs.[12][13]

In 2022, Harbor Freight Tools opened a distribution center in Joliet, Illinois, spanning 1.6 million square feet in size and creating 800 new jobs.[12]

In 2023, Harbor Freight Tools was certified as a Great Place to Work.[3] According to the Great Place to Work Institute, 90% of employees at Harbor Freight Tools say it is a great place to work compared to 57% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company.

Investor relations[edit]

In 2012, Harbor Freight, through Credit Suisse, secured a $750 million loan to refinance existing debt and fund a dividend for the company's private shareholders.[14]

Philanthropy[edit]

Harbor Freight Tools states "one of our core values is giving back to the great communities where we live, work and serve. With respect and humility, we strive to support and strengthen communities, big and small, across the United States." The company supports K-12 education, veterans, and police and fire organizations with donations and gifts of tools and equipment.[15]

On January 9, 2013, CEO Eric Smidt, through Harbor Freight Tools, donated $1.4 million of tools and equipment to the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Career Technical Education.[16]

In 2016, Eric Smidt formed The Smidt Foundation to house Harbor Freight Tools for Schools and support other education, health, safety, and community needs. The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence awards more than $1.5 million annually to skilled trades teachers and their schools.[17]

In February 2018, Cedars-Sinai announced a $50 million gift from Eric and Susan Smidt and The Smidt Foundation to create the Smidt Heart Institute.[18]

In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harbor Freight Tools committed to donate its entire supply of N95 masks, face shields, and nitrile gloves to U.S. hospitals which had a 24-hour emergency room.[19]

Criticism and legal action[edit]

Harbor Freight Tools was sued by a group of its store employees in 2012, who alleged that they were misclassified as "exempt" from overtime payments as "managers" under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Harbor Freight Tools won a declassification of the class action; that is, the court found that all the individual situations were not similar enough to be judged as a single class, and that their claims would require an individual-by-individual inquiry, so the case could not be handled on a class basis.[20]

In 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed against the company by customers, claiming that the tool company falsely advertised "normal" prices for products that were higher than an advertised "sale" price, when the item had never been offered at the original, higher price. Consumers claimed that this practice misled them into thinking that the item was on sale and they were getting a deal. The company settled, paying consumers up to $33,000,000.[21][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About Us". harborfreight.com.
  2. ^ "Harbor Freight Tools opens massive facility in Joliet, pays $21.50 for workers". www.shawlocal.com. June 9, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Working at Harbor Freight Tools". GreatPlaceToWork.com. Retrieved 2023-07-13.
  4. ^ "Company Overview of Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc]". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  5. ^ a b "Harbor Freight Tools – Quality Tools at Discount Prices Since 1977". harborfreight.com.
  6. ^ "Eric Smidt, Chairman & CEO – Harbor Freight Tools". harborfreight.com.
  7. ^ "Harbor Freight Tools signs deal to open new Batavia store". Daily Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  8. ^ "Harbor Freight Tools". October 16, 1997. Archived from the original on 1997-10-16.
  9. ^ "site:harborfreight.com – Google Search". google.com. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  10. ^ "harborfreight.com Traffic Analytics & Market Share". Similarweb. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  11. ^ "Harbor Freight Tools opens massive facility in Joliet, pays $21.50 for workers". ShawLocal.com.
  12. ^ a b "Harbor Freight Tools announces 200 new Dillon County jobs". SCNow.
  13. ^ "Harbor Freight Celebrates Grand Opening Of Distribution Center, Family Day – The Dillon Herald". Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  14. ^ "RLPC: Harbor Freight sweetens terms on TL". Reuters.com. May 9, 2012.
  15. ^ "Harbor Freight Giving Back". Harbor Freight Giving Back. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  16. ^ "LAUSD • Thank you to Harbor Freight Tools for their..." LAUSD.
  17. ^ "$1.5 Million available for high school skilled trades teachers and programs". WBIW.com. Retrieved 2023-07-14.
  18. ^ "Harbor Freight Tools Owner and His Foundation Give $50M to Create Smidt Heart Institute". Harbor Freight Tools Owner and His Foundation Give $50M to Create Smidt Heart Institute.
  19. ^ "Harbor Freight stores donating all masks and gloves to help fight coronavirus". 23 March 2020.
  20. ^ "District Court Decertifies FLSA Class of Retail Managers". Employment Class Action Blog. August 31, 2012.
  21. ^ "GCG". nationalsalepricesettlement.com.
  22. ^ "Harbor Freight Fake Sale Class Action Settlement Checks Mailed". May 17, 2018.

External links[edit]