Powering Up Trades Career Opportunities for Minnesota Teens
Northern Tool + Equipment is a family-owned business that has strong Minnesota and blue-collar roots. Founded by Don Kotula in his garage in Northern Minnesota in 1981, the company has grown and evolved during its history to have opened 120 stores across the nation — while maintaining its promise to serve the people who need quality tools for serious work.
In addition to this core focus of the company, Northern Tool is committed and focused on supporting the future of America’s skilled trades force. This effort is powered by the company’s Nurturing Trade + Excellence program, an effort anchored in education and community — with an eye toward empowering trade students to pursue a career in the trades.
Nurturing Trade was created in 2016 when the company forged a connection between its new White Bear Lake, Minnesota retail store and White Bear Lake High School to host a hands-on skills contest between students, and with engagement from local store teams, leadership, and Northern Tool’s owners on-site. As part of this event, Northern Tool donated thousands of dollars in tools to the school’s industrial trade program, and in scholarship to the winning student.
From the Minnesota launch of the program, Northern Tool has traveled across the country to extend the initiative, visiting schools from Davenport, Iowa, to deep in the heart of Texas and beyond to make big donations to high school trade programs. At the core, these programs give students memorable experiences and activities ranging from tuning up vehicles of charity organizations to welding “thank you” shields to wounded veterans.
In the coming year in Minnesota, Northern Tool is making strides to give future trades workers an added boost. Through Nurturing Trade, the company is creating an internship program through its Parts, Service + Repair Department to give students real, hands-on training. Coupled with this activity, the Nurturing Trade program is distributing significant scholarships to select students to help them pursue their dreams of working in the trades.
The need to lend a hand to students who want to work with their hands is critical: there are major shortages in talent and Northern Tool is dedicated to showing students the way to a great and rewarding career path.