Don Kotula, founder of Northern Tool + Equipment, passes away at 78

The founder of Northern Tool + Equipment died this past weekend, according to a statement sent out by the company.

Don Kotula passed away peacefully on Saturday at the age of 78.

He founded the company out of his garage in Eagan in 1981 and built it into a nationwide destination for trades professionals.

Kotula worked at his father’s scrapyard on the Iron Range as a teenager, where he made a business of sourcing parts for customers through his travels between Hibbing and the Twin Cities.

“Our father will be remembered for his passion, humor, spontaneity and the countless stories he shared showcasing his zeal for life,” said sons Ryan and Wade Kotula. “His legacy lives on through the great company he founded and built over 42 years ago. We are excited about the future of Northern Tool, thanks in large part to the solid foundation and values our dad instilled in all of us. He was the true embodiment of what our company stands for and will be greatly missed.”

The family asks that any commemorations or donations be made to the Northern Tool + Equipment Foundation that benefits the Tools for the Trades program.