Here's The whole story of how we got started
It goes like this.
Back in 1989, there were these two brothers in Duluth – wild and woolly, hippie tradesmen kinda guys, working in the construction business. Every day, they saw guys dragging a jumble of tools from job to job using discarded five-gallon drywall compound buckets. A few of the guys strung wire around the bucket to hold tools, or even used bungee cords. The two brothers thought, "There's got to be a better way." So they invented the Bucket Boss® – a ruggedly durable canvas tool organizer that fit on a drywall bucket.
One thing led to another, and pretty soon they came out with a little catalog called Portable Products. Under the heading "Job Tough, Job Smart," it offered 8 pages of products dedicated to improving and expanding on existing methods of tool storage, organization and transport. To save money, everything in the catalog was illustrated by a friend of the two brothers, a free spirit named Rick. (Who still illustrates the catalogs today, when he's not off canoeing.) The first outpost that could be called a headquarters was a refurbished barge on the waterfront of Lake Superior in Duluth's shipping district.
In 1993, having had some success, the brothers decided to expand their product line beyond tool organizers, and Portable Products became Duluth Trading. But the idea was still the same: innovation for the job site. Every product was field tested on job sites by a grizzly bunch of construction workers, dock hands, cycle riders, old hippies and other hard-as-nails characters. If those guys couldn't break it, the brothers added it to the line. Everything Duluth Trading offered was designed and tested by tradesmen.
Eventually the company changed hands, but the innovative spirit of the two brothers lived on. The original grizzly bunch of product testers became the Duluth Trades Panel, but they still do the same thing: use, abuse and improve our products by testing them in real-world conditions. Even as you read this, some of them may be testing out an upcoming Duluth item as they frame a new house, demolish a dysfunctional kitchen or bend down to see what's up with a drip-drip-drippy sink. If anything doesn't measure up, they let us know about it in no uncertain terms.
If it was the bucket organizer that got Duluth Trading off the ground, it was the introduction of the Longtail T® in 2002 that put us on the map. A little bit of innovation – just three extra inches of shirt body length – solved the age old, notorious and much feared problem known as Plumber's Butt. Now thousands of guys who have to bend over when they work can stay in the good graces of their clients and fellow tradesmen. "My husband loves his Longtail Ts and so does everyone that's behind him!" wrote a customer from Michigan, expressing a widely-held sentiment.
Of course, there's more to Duluth Trading than tool bags and Longtail Ts. Like our soft-yet-tough Fire Hose® workwear – made of the same rugged canvas that once wrapped fire hoses. Our Presentation Jacket that's tough enough for the job site, yet presentable enough to handle the Suits. Easy-moving F.O.M.™ (Freedom of Movement) shirts and pants that let you bend, stretch and work in complete comfort. Sweat survival gear incorporating the latest in moisture-wicking, antimicrobial technology. And much more.
Anything that will help guys in the trades work smarter, work more comfortably, we're out to develop.
Through a series of business events we won't bore you with, we are now located in Belleville, Wisconsin. Our headquarters includes a state-of-the-art call center and 140,000 sq. ft. distribution center.
All that expansion led to a whole new business: women's clothing, designed to work as hard and last as long as anything built for men. In 2005, we mailed the first women's catalog to all the Duluth wives who'd told us they were sick of flimsy work wear. Today, thousands of women with tough, dirty jobs and hobbies look to us for workwear tested and approved by Real Women.
Each year, we get a little better, a little smarter, offering a wider and wider selection, while working hard to remember our roots. We still care deeply about what we are doing, and spend a lot of time on new product development and researching features and durability. We're committed to outstanding, rapid service – when you call, a real person will answer not a machine. And we offer a 100% No Bull satisfaction guarantee. We hope all this makes up for any shortcomings we may have when compared to the industry giants.
The most satisfying aspect of our business remains our interaction with you, so don't hesitate to contact us. We accept phone calls, e-mail, cards, singing telegrams, napkin doodles, manuscripts, letters just to say "hello," photos (nothing racy), diary pages or anything else you'd like to contribute to help make our products, catalog or web site better.