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A Legacy of Longevity,
Service & Sales Support 


National Hardware begins on October 12, 1901, when three young men (Benjamin F. Washburne, William P. Benson and Louis A. Bittorf) buy a small two story wagon factory in Sterling, Illinois, and call it National Wagon Company.

When wagon sales begin to decline, the founders switch to selling hardware and rename the company National Manufacturing Co., adding Herman Bittorf as the fourth partner.


National Manufacturing expands several times, building factories in 1907 and 1910 and an office building in 1914.

At the same time, National continues to expand its product offering, adding new products each year. While barn door hardware remains the big seller, National develops products that appeal to city dwellers and farmers, remodelers and professional builders.


National Hardware receives a commendation from the War Department for production of ammunition box hardware during World War I.


The Great Depression staggers National but does not stop it.

Doing everything they can to avoid layoffs, the founders take pay cuts, reduce hours and find non-production jobs for the workers. Employees later recall that some parts of the plant received several coats of paint.

By the mid-thirties, sales begin climbing back to their pre-crash levels.


National Manufacturing becomes the first company in the Twin Cities to install IBM equipment.

The tabulator, gang punch, sorter and keypunch increase speed and accuracy, reduce office drudgery and free the staff for more productive work.


During World War II, National again converts its business to war production - its first government order is seven carloads of Strap and T-hinges for the Air Force. Later, National supplies hinges for the Army tables and airplane hangars.

As in the First World War, National’s chief product is ammunition box hardware. By retooling and improving the design, National reduces costs and makes the hardware sturdier and easier to use.


The 1950s are a time of rapid change in the hardware industry. As discount chain stores spread across the nation offering low-priced imports, many hardware dealers join buying co-ops that purchase in volume to reduce unit costs. There is also new growth in the farm hardware market and a new force, the pole barn builders.

The sales team is instructed that National can succeed in the post-war marketplace, but only if they convince their customers of the value of new merchandising techniques.


View-pac panel board assortments are introduced in July of 1962. Expanded and refined over the years, this innovative, self-merchandising system is still part of National's merchandising program today.

National also continues to invest in computer technology, machinery and product development. National expands and reorganizes its sales force and increases its business with dealer-owned co-ops and pole barn builders.


In 1977 National Manufacturing has 15,000 customers, 3,000 SKUs and 700 employees. Its work force has doubled in ten years and there ismore growth ahead.

In January, National introduces its TAB-LOC steel door frames and in September, opens a new distribution center outside of Rock Falls, IL.


Continuing to rise with the co-ops, National pursues a two-pronged strategy of selling in the stores and the warehouses. While the field sales reps are opening new accounts and expanding business with established customers, the National Accounts Department is servicing the head offices of the co-ops and increasing sales to their warehouses.

The sales force has grown to 146 men and women, and sales jump from $56 million in 1980 to $121 million in 1990.


In 2005 National Manufacturing Co. is acquired by The Stanley Works.

Founded in 1843 by Frederick T. Stanley in New Britain, Connecticut, the Stanley Works began as a small manufacturer of hinges, bolts and other door hardware.

The earliest credits include the first hinge hasp, the first crate hinge, the first hinge with reinforced joint, the first "blind" hinge and in 1899, the first patent for a ball bearing hinge.


With several major product launches, ?a renewed focus on innovation and ?new websites, National Hardware re-?establishes themselves as the leaders ?in builder’s hardware. We provide ?quality products, outstanding service ?and best-in-class plan-o-grams and ?merchandising solutions to leading ?hardware and home improvement ?dealers. As a global brand, National ?Hardware offers more than 15 product ?categories and over 6,000 SKUs.

A Legacy of Service & Sales Support Since 1901

  • Best-in-class national sales force focusing solely on builder’s hardware
  • High quality products that exceed ANSI and BHMA certification standards
  • Prime manufacturer of the majority of products we sell
  • Nationally backed warehouse program allowing precise control over inventory
  • Multiple distribution facilities for short lead times
  • Multiple product categories - one order, one invoice

Marketing Support

At National Hardware, the service goes beyond just sales support. We have a dedicated marketing team that is here to help with your needs. We provide custom category sell sheets and marketing collateral that can be created quickly and easily with the click of a button. Contact your sales rep to learn more about our custom collateral and merchandising.


Custom Merchandising

National Hardware’s merchandising system includes free merchandising aids and POP, along with ongoing upgrades, including clip strips, counter top displays, end caps and cross merchandising opportunities.

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