The Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation has named Acme Tools as the 2020 Klaus Thiessen Impact Award recipient.

“Thank you for recognizing Acme Tools' contribution to the economic growth and prosperity of the Grand Forks region,” said Steve Kuhlman, vice president of corporate operations at Acme Tools, in a news release. “We are proud to be a Grand Forks and North Dakota-based company and proud of our 70-plus year history.”

The Impact Award honors businesses and individuals that make a positive impact on economic growth and prosperity in the Grand Forks region. The award is usually announced in the spring at the EDC’s annual meeting, which was not held this year due to concerns about the spread of a novel coronavirus. In place of the meeting, the EDC created a profile video of the award and tool retailer on YouTube and announced them on Dec. 15, to ensure Acme Tools was recognized the same year in which it was awarded.

“Sometimes we take for granted the things that we see everyday,” EDC President and CEO Keith Lund told the Herald. “Acme Tools is a world class e-retailer that was launched right here in Grand Forks. They continue to grow and invest in the community and continue to make investments in our region. We're very proud to recognize them as the 2020 Klaus Thiessen EDC Impact Award winner.”

Acme Tools is headquartered in Grand Forks and is a major industrial tool distributor and retailer of tools and equipment. It has 10 retail stores located in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, a direct mail catalog division and an internet sales division. The company stocks more than 180,000 products from 3,500 manufacturers for its customers, which include contractors, woodworkers and do-it-yourselfers.

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In 1993, Acme Tools’ first direct mail catalog led to record company growth and expansion. The company was an early adopter of the internet business model when it launched ToolCriboftheNorth.com in February 1999. The success in online sales that followed resulted in Amazon acquiring the online and direct sales divisions eight months later.

Acme Tools re-entered internet retailing with the launch of AcmeTools.com in 2010, and today is a leading authorized online retailer offering more than 85,000 products. The company opened a new distribution center in Grand Forks in 2014 to support its growing e-commerce business and completed an addition that doubled the size of the center to 80,000 square feet in September.

“As an existing business, the EDC has been a valuable partner for Acme Tools as we've expanded in Grand Forks,” said Kuhlman. “Keith Lund and his outstanding team do an excellent job driving economic development and recruiting new businesses and talent to the region. In our case, they have supported our growth plans to expand our facilities and employment in Grand Forks.”

Acme Tools is a privately held, family-owned business founded in 1948 by George Kuhlman as an electric motor repair shop, then known as Acme Electric. They expanded into tool sales and service in 1962, when current Acme Tools President Daniel Kuhlman joined the company. The Tool Crib of the North name was added to the Grand Forks retail store in 1970, and the company rebranded itself as Acme Tools in 2005.

“My grandfather and father are true entrepreneurs,” Kuhlman said. “Their business acumen is widely recognized in the industry and, most importantly, they taught all of us at Acme Tools how to take care of our customers.”

The EDC’s 11-member board provides direction for the region’s economic development strategy to support the growth and diversity of the region’s economy. The board’s priorities include business recruitment and retention in primary sector industries, including agri-business, autonomous systems, manufacturing and high-tech services, as well as workforce development and entrepreneurship.

The Grand Forks Region EDC works to foster an environment that attracts innovative people and business investment to Grand Forks County and the surrounding region.