Northern Tool

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Northern Tool + Equipment
IndustryIndustrial tools retail and manufacturing
FounderDon Kotula[1]
SubsidiariesThe Sportsman's Guide
The Golf Warehouse

Northern Tool + Equipment (commonly referred to as Northern Tool) is a manufacturer and retailer of light industrial equipment and do-it-yourself supplies. Founded in 1981, the company is the owner of the NorthStar brand which makes up 20 percent of its product line.[2] It also owns The Golf Warehouse and The Sportsman's Guide.


Northern Tool was founded by Don Kotula when he began selling log splitters out of his garage.[3] He originally worked in heavy equipment sales at Ziegler, but left when the business began slumping during the 1981-82 recession. In addition to log splitters, Kotula sold cylinders, valves, and hydraulics with his family members assisting in the sales and order fulfillment.[3] The company's first brick and mortar store was opened in Burnsville, Minnesota in 1981.[2]

Northern Tool began its own manufacturing business in 1991 with the launch of its NorthStar brand. It manufactured tools such as log splitters, generators, pressure washers, and air compressors.[3] NorthStar brand makes up for 20 percent of Northern Tool's product line.[2] The company launched a website and mail order catalogue in 2008 called Kotula's, named after the founder.[4]

In December 2017, Northern Tool opened its 100th store and reached $1 billion in sales.[3]


In addition to tool sales and manufacturing, Northern Tool owns The Golf Warehouse and The Sportsman's Guide.

The Golf Warehouse / The Sportsman's Guide[edit]

Northern Tool purchased both The Golf Warehouse and The Sportsman's Guide from Redcats in 2012. The operation of both companies were combined, but continue to operate as standalone online retailers.[5]

The Sportsman's Guide was founded in 1970 by Gary Olen and focuses on hunting and fishing gear, military surplus, ammunition and outdoor sporting goods. It was purchased by Redcats in 2006 for $265 million. The company was publicly traded at the time and the purchase was valued at $31 per share prior to going private after the sale.[6] The Sportsman's guide also operates websites including and[5]

The Golf Warehouse, commonly referred to as TGW, was founded in 1998.[7] It maintains a retail store in Wichita, Kansas with the majority of its sales coming online. In 1999, IMG Sports Capital invested in 70% of the company. IMG sold its interest to The Sportsman's Guide in 2003 and the company was sold to the European distributor PPR in 2005, adding baseball items to its offerings through the website[7][8] The company sells name brand golf equipment and promotional golf items through online ordering and catalogues.[9]


Northern Tool was the sponsor of the 250, a NASCAR series race held at the Milwaukee Mile. The race was held in both 1984 and 1985, but then discontinued until 1993 when it resumed through the 2009 season.


  1. ^ Albright, Mark (23 December 2005). "A toy store for men". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Renalls, Candace (30 January 2012). "Iron Range native with junkyard roots built business into national chain". Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d St. Anthony, Neal (19 December 2017). "Privately held Norther Tool, with $1 billion in sales, opens 100th store". Star Tribune. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  4. ^ Vomhof J.r, John (14 December 2008). "Northern Tool and Equipment launches quirky Kotula's brand". Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b Vomhof Jr., John (8 November 2012). "Northern Tool buys two sporting-goods retailers for $215M". Minneaapolis St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Redcats to Buy Sportsman's Guide". TheStreet. 5 May 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b Nord, Jeretta Horn (2009). A Cup of Cappuccino for the Entrepreneur's Spirit:: Find Your Passion and Live the Dream, Volume 1. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781453594964. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  8. ^ Moon, Chris (21 May 2010). "Golf Warehouse expands east Wichita store". Wichita Business Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  9. ^ Bierer, Casey (17 June 2006). "In Their Own Words The Golf Warehouse". The Golf Channel. Retrieved 4 October 2018.

External links[edit]