Northern Tool + Equipment has always been a family-owned and operated business that puts people first. Our entrepreneurial spirit can be traced back to Founder Don Kotula. In 1981, the nationwide recession prompted Don to dust off his hydraulics expertise and set up shop in his garage. Helping people get tough jobs done meant selling cylinders, valves, and how-to log splitter manuals by mail. And finding creative solutions meant distributing those same log-splitter kits by Greyhound bus. Sons Ryan and Wade Kotula worked alongside Don, eventually taking over as owners—and while the business has evolved, the most important things haven’t changed at all.
We’ve always had a way of either seeing what’s next—or defining it. Northern Hydraulics was one of the first omnichannel companies with an eCommerce store in the 1990s. And when we wanted to expand our expertise, office locations and offerings to customers, we started manufacturing our own products. In 1998 we became Northern Tool + Equipment to reflect our growing product assortment.
We’re not the first company that started out in a garage, either. But we might be one of the few that remain true to that small, family-owned culture. The kind where we welcome people into our company and stores the way we welcome them into our homes. Our employees have the power to add value and make an impact in their work every day. We expand our capabilities with retail, manufacturing, and contact centers—not just for profit, but so we can jump in and make things happen in more places. And we acquire subsidiaries like Jack Small Engines, Great Northern Equipment, and K&M Manufacturing because it’s how we’ll grow and serve customers better.
With 126 retail stores across 22 states, a selection of products from the top national brands, and global manufacturing operations, we’re here to put people first and help our customers and communities tackle tough jobs. We’re powered by smart, hard-working, helpful people— some who’ve been here for most of their careers. And we’re here to boldly build what comes next…because we are Made for This!