Grainger: For the ones who get it done
July 22, 2023
W. W. Grainger, Inc. is an American Fortune 500 industrial supply company founded in 1927 in Chicago by William W. (Bill) Grainger. By 1936, Grainger had established 15 branches to improve customer service.
The Grainger Industrial Supply Company began as a mail-order business and the company’s catalog called The Motor Book was the foundation for today’s Grainger catalogue. Bill Grainger’s goal was to provide consumers with a dependable supply of motors. Today, the company serves more than three million customers worldwide with a product line that includes motors, lighting, material handling, fasteners, plumbing, tools, and safety supplies, along with inventory management services and technical support.
Business-to-business sales are the company’s main source of revenue. With a network of about 598 branches, as well as online channels such as Grainger.com, KeepStock and eProcurement, customers are well served. Grainger currently has 33 distribution centers.
Grainger headquarters are now located in Lake Forest, Illinois.
Grainger became a publicly traded company in 1967 and has increased dividends to its shareholders for forty-five consecutive years. Since becoming public, the Grainger company has grown consistently and reported US$11.5 billion in annual sales, as of the end of 2019.
In 1995 the company launched an electronic catalog, which later evolved into an eCommerce platform.
In 2016, Internet Retailer named Grainger the 11th largest eCommerce retailer in North America. By 2019, more than 70 percent of Grainger orders were made online and more than 85 percent of orders were shipped directly to customers or made available immediately through onsite services.
In 2011, to serve the U.S. small business market via web-only transactions, Grainger’s subsidiary Zoro Tools, Inc. and website zoro.com was launched. Grainger.com continues to serve large and mid-sized customers.