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Entries : True Value Hardware
True Value Hardware

True Value Hardware

In 1948, John Cotter, a veteran hardware salesman from St. Paul, Minnesota, created Cotter & Co., a wholesaler that supplied a cooperative of 25 hardware retailers in Illinois and other Midwestern states. This company, which sold through catalogs, had about 200 employees and $20 million in annual sales by the beginning of the 1960s, when the retail network had expanded to about 500 stores. In 1963, Cotter spent $2.5 million to acquire the hardware operations and “True Value” trademark of the venerable Chicago hardware company Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett. This brought 400 new retailers into the Cotter cooperative and doubled the size of the business. Annual sales proceeded to grow from $100 million in 1966 to about $2 billion by the end of the 1980s, when the company employed about 1,000 people in the Chicago area. In 1997, after Cotter & Co. merged with Pittsburgh-based competitor ServiStar Coast to Coast Corp., the company became known as the TruServ Corp. Based in Chicago, TruServ was a member-owned cooperative supplying over 10,000 independent hardware retailers worldwide and with annual sales of over $4 billion and nearly 2,000 employees in the Chicago area. See also Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co.