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Northern Tool + Equipment Overview

Headquarters Burnsville, MN
Size 1001 to 5000 Employees
Founded 1980
Type Company - Private
Industry Retail
Revenue $1 to $2 billion (USD) per year
Headquartered in Burnsville, Minnesota, Northern Tool + Equipment is a family-owned, billion-dollar, multi-channel retailer with over 85 store locations in 18 states, three distribution centers, and a dedicated engineering and manufacturing facility.

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Mission: Northern Tool + Equipment is a family business that takes pride in our ability to equip you with the tools to tackle tough challenges. We strive to build lasting relationships and promote a fun and unique Northern experience.

Company Updates

  • "Be Entrepreneurial" is a core value at Northern Tool + Equipment, which is why we love this story about one of our newest products! http://glassdoor.com/slink.htm?key=vI8nX

    New Zealand girl's idea finds its way to Northern Tool

    Ayla Hutchinson, 16, may be the youngest and farthest-traveling entrepreneur to showcase at the Minnesota State Fair this year. Hutchinson, who lives with her family in a small city in New Zealand, conceived of a safer approach to splitting kindling in 2012 after she saw her mom, Claire, slice her finger with a hatchet.

  • Northern named as one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Retailers! http://glassdoor.com/slink.htm?key=vIT73

    Fastest-growing US retailer is a northern import

    What do a traditional department store, a flash-sale site and a clothing and accessories manufacturer have in common? While each operates its own distinct business model, Saks parent company Hudson's Bay, online shopping site Zulily, and G-III -which holds licenses for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger-are all among the 10 fastest-growing retailers in the U.S.

Northern Tool + Equipment – Why Work For Us?


I grew up on Minnesota's Iron Range, between Hibbing and Chisholm. As a youngster, I worked for my father, whose scrap yard recycled industrial debris, such as old train parts and mining equipment. The Range is three hours north of the Twin Cities and it has an up-and-down economy. That has meant that sometimes there was a lack of access to the right equipment, so people there had developed a make-it-yourself mentality. While I was still a teenager, I started my own business, refurbishing and selling used hydraulic components to loggers.

After earning a degree in finance and business from the University of Minnesota–Duluth, I came down to the Twin Cities in 1972 and worked as an accountant for Montgomery Ward and Northwest Airlines. I then took a sales job at Ziegler, a heavy equipment dealer. But in 1980, sales of bulldozers, loaders, and the like were slumping, so Ziegler and I parted ways.

I responded to the situation with a Ranger's resourcefulness. I dusted off my hydraulics knowledge and set up shop in my garage, selling cylinders, valves and how-to manuals for log splitters by mail. Northern Hydraulics was born! My family was right there along side me, mailing catalogs, answering calls, taking orders, strapping packages, and coordinating the shipping.

As our business grew, we began adding other products such as tools, tarps, water pumps, snowplow parts, and air compressors. In 1981, we opened our first store, renting warehouse and showroom space in Burnsville, MN. What we couldn't get from suppliers, we often made ourselves. In 1991, we launched a manufacturing business that builds bigger, tougher products under the NorthStar brand, including log splitters, generators, pressure washers, and air compressors. In 1998, we changed our company's name to Northern Tool + Equipment to better reflect our product offering.

Northern Tool + Equipment remains my family's business today. I enjoy working with my sons, Ryan and Wade. Together, along with thousands of motivated employees, we are able to bring the things we value to millions of loyal customers. We continue to provide a large selection of useful products at a great price while backing them with product expertise and customer care. We provide you with the tools to tackle tough challenges. It's what a Ranger would do.

Donald L. Kotula 
Founder and Chief Executive Officer 
Northern Tool + Equipment


Northern Tool + Equipment offers a comprehensive and competitive benefits package. Most benefits are offered to employees working 30 hours per week. Part-time employees may be eligible to enroll in the 401(k) plan. The following benefit plans are available to eligible employees:


  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan through Medica / United Healthcare
  • In-network preventative care covered at 100%
  • Prescription drug copayments
  • Employee and dependent coverage available


  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan through Delta Dental
  • In-network preventative care covered at 100%
  • Other dental services covered at 80% or 50%
  • Employee and dependent coverage available

Vision Care

  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan through EyeMed Vision Care
  • Copayment structure for covered services
  • Employee and dependent coverage available

Life Insurance

  • Basic employee life insurance coverage through Unum provided by company
  • Supplemental life insurance through Unum available for employee, spouse and children

Disability Insurance

  • Short Term Disability coverage through Unum provided by company
  • Additional Short Term Disability coverage available
  • Long Term Disability coverage through Unum available

Flexible Spending Accounts

  • Health care reimbursement account
  • Dependent care reimbursement account

Voluntary Benefits

  • Accident, Cancer and Critical Illness insurance plans through Colonial Life

Paid Time Off

  • Vacation
  • Sick time
  • Paid company holidays
  • Personal holidays

401(k) Retirement Plan

  • Traditional 401(k) and Roth 401(k) options through Wells Fargo available
  • Discretionary company match up to 2.5% of salary

Core values and mission statements only matter if you live them. It’s not enough to tack them up on the walls of the conference rooms and forget about them. At Northern Tool + Equipment, we stay true to our values; we live them every day. We don’t chase the latest corporate fashion. We ground our business decisions in fundamentals.



We keep our focus on the customer. We anticipate needs and deliver solutions.We work to develop a high level of cooperation and mutual respect. We establishlasting relationships.


We don’t hesitate at Northern Tool + Equipment. We make timely, informed decisionsthat drive us to meet our business goals. We pay attention to the road ahead andwork to eliminate roadblocks. We put our team in a position to succeed.


We take responsibility for our actions and gain the trust of our customers by demonstratingintegrity in our interactions with them. We treat people with fairness, honesty, and respect.We believe in straightforward communication.


We stay hungry at Northern Tool + Equipment. We support and encourage opportunities for personal learning and development, and we empower our team members to take responsibility for their own development.


We understand that innovation is the key to success. We grow our business because
we adapt to changing circumstances and embrace change. We find ways to make
change work for our business.


We take pride in what we do and support the efforts of our coworkers.
We acknowledge and celebrate our achievements.
Most of all, we stay positive and create new opportunities.


Northern Tool + Equipment is a family business that takes pride in our ability to equip you with the tools to tackle tough challenges. We strive to build lasting relationships and promote a fun and unique Northern experience.

I think a lot of companies ignore the discussion of values in the work place. Northern not
only embraces values, but clearly defines them and provides a process for recognizing
them in our employees every day.
– E-Commerce Team Member


When I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, I remember being filled with many hopes and dreams. Of course I wanted to be successful, but more importantly, I wanted to feel fulfilled and proud of each of my future endeavors.

In the fall of 1980, I took a risk and realized one of my dreams when I started Northern Tool + Equipment as a part-time mail-order business. Although initially the company was small, I strongly believed in its potential and knew that with perseverance, it would ultimately be successful.

Since that time, Northern's success and growth have been nothing less than remarkable. Year after year, sales from our catalog, Internet and retail stores continue to skyrocket. With an eye to the future, we steadily explore new and exciting territories, planning aggressive expansion into a multitude of new business ventures.

Today, there are more challenging and diverse opportunities available to Northern employees than ever before. Recruiting and developing the best talent in the industry creates a strong team, and we recognize the important role each employee plays in contributing to the success of our company. Ultimately, it is through the personal growth and daily achievements of our employees that the Northern vision will come to life and the company will continue to flourish.

With that in mind, we encourage our over 2,000 employees to take risks and think big as they work to accomplish both individual and team goals, and we reward them when they do. After all, I may never have fulfilled my dreams if I hadn't taken a risk in starting Northern more than 30 years ago.

The future holds a wealth of exciting and rewarding possibilities and we invite you to join us in making the most of them. Come grow with us!

Donald L. Kotula 
Founder and Chief Executive Officer 
Northern Tool + Equipment

Since founder Don Kotula opened his garage door to the world in 1980, Northern Tool + Equipment has stayed true to a vision that has guided the company ever since — building lasting relationships by providing the right solution for our customers. Today, Northern Tool + Equipment has grown into a billion-dollar company that provides over 40,000 carefully
chosen tools via catalogs, website and retail stores. We seek talented people who wish to share their initiative, ideas and expertise; we develop and support our teams and we put them in a position to succeed. We know our customer, we provide value and we act with integrity. We are True Northern.

Can a family business be a major player? Taken together, Northern Tool + Equipment’s operations generate over $1 billion in sales each year. Within our industry, Northern is a recognized leader.  At the same time, Northern Tool + Equipment is a family business in the ways that matter. Senior management is just down the hall or up the stairs from everyone in our headquarters building. Don Kotula isn’t an oil painting in the lobby — he’s walking the hallways and offering ideas (and wisdom) to the team.

At Northern Tool, we’re far more interested in building relationships than we are in simply making transactions. Our customer base is exceptionally loyal, because customers know that we will give them the right solution. Our employees are loyal, too — we strive for low employee turnover, and we regularly celebrate work anniversaries at Northern.  Every year, team members earn recognition for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, even 30 years of service.

From the beginning, Northern Tool + Equipment has been on a continuous pattern of growth. By staying true to our Core Values, Northern has been able to maintain success in its operations and thrive in good times and in periods of uncertainty.

Northern is an industry leader. We listen to the customer and respond. We offer top-quality tools and expert advice to our customers.

We have a manufacturing facility where we design, test and build world-class tools. Our merchants travel the world to find superior products.

As a family-owned business, we don’t just talk about work/life balance at Northern Tool + Equipment. We have respect for personal lives; wherever possible, we strive for flexibility in work schedules and we maintain a relaxed, professional atmosphere. By treating our employees with respect and understanding, we are able to maintain a cohesive team.

There are no silos or closed doors. The atmosphere is really laid back and you get to
interact with people from all levels of the company. It’s not even a surprise when Don
Kotula stops you in the hallway and asks you if you want to see pictures from his trip!
Finance Team Member

For me the culture is what makes Northern a great place to work. Every day
something different is happening that makes you feel you are part of something
special. From the Kotula family, to my fellow employees, and lastly our customers.
The loyalty, passion and drive that each person provides is truly the driver of our
culture and it provides a place of work that many wish they could be a part of.
Merchandising Team Member

Northern Tool + Equipment Reviews

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Recommend to a friend
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Donald L. Kotula
33 Ratings
  • Featured Review

    Great Place to Work and Grow!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Cashier
    Current Employee - Cashier
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Northern Tool + Equipment part-time (More than a year)


    Northern Tool + Equipment is a wonderful place to work, and it is truly a great place to work and grow as both an individual and as a team member. I love working here, and believe it is an invaluable life experience for me. My management is fantastic, my coworkers are great, I could not have asked for a better experience. They are really good at working around my college schedule, and always try to put me first. I get paid well.


    They only cons that I can think of are, it is unreliable hours if you are part time (which is any part time job, usually), and if you wish to transition to full time, that can be a difficult process. Also, I do not receive benefits, or any vacation/sick time at all (which is to be expected out of a part time position).

    Advice to Management

    I firmly believe in my core that this is a wonderful place to work. I have worked in several different locations in my region, and the experience truly depends on who is working there with you. I do wish that procedure would remain the same throughout different locations, but everyone does things their own way.

Northern Tool + Equipment Photos

Northern Tool + Equipment Interviews

Interview Experience

Interview Experience


Getting an Interview

Getting an Interview


Interview Difficulty


Interview Difficulty




    Associate Marketing Analyst Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Burnsville, MN
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Easy Interview


    I applied online. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at Northern Tool + Equipment (Burnsville, MN).


    Initial phone interview, then an interview with three managers in person (separately, but consecutively). The phone interview was 45 minutes, and the in-person interviews took up about 2 hours. The HR manager said I would hear about the decision at the beginning of the next week. I received no further response regarding the position, even after attempting to contact the HR manager about it personally.

    Interview Questions

    • Consisted of some behavioral questions and also about my work history.   Answer Question

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