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Don Kotula: Northern Tool & Equipment

What do you do for a career if your dad owns a salvage yard in Hibbing, Minn., (former home of Bob Dylan) and does not believe in sales or marketing, but you happen to like machines, tools, and selling to customers to make them happy? You build an $800 million (sales) giant in the tool and equipment industry.

Leonard Kotula, Don’s dad, owned a small salvage yard in Hibbing. Leonard Kotula’s philosophy was that if you could walk, you could work. Don Kotula started working in the family business “since he was born.”

They would buy cars and equipment from a variety of sources, including area mines that were changing from mining iron ore in underground mines to open-pit taconite mines, and resell them as parts or steel.

From this humble beginning, Kotula created a tool and equipment retail giant and manufacturing company with over $800 million in sales.

This is how he did it.

This introduction is excerpted from Bootstrap to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs who Built Great Companies from Scratch by Dr. Dileep Rao. Copying or reproduction in any format or medium without the prior express, written consent of the author is strictly prohibited.

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