Norton Rockler, Rockler’s founder, dies at 98

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Rockler Woodworking & Hardware founder Norton “Nordy” Rockler passed away on Dec. 28, 2020, at the age of 98. The family-run business, now celebrating its 66th anniversary, is a supplier of specialty hardware, tools, lumber and other high-quality woodworking products with 37 retail locations across 20 states in addition to catalog and internet operations.

Rockler founded the Minnesota Woodworkers Supply Company in 1954 in North Minneapolis as a mail order business, which later became The Woodworker’s Store with the opening of the first retail store in 1977. In 1996, the company was renamed Rockler Woodworking & Hardware.

“My father was a pioneer and innovator in his field and left an incredible legacy in woodworking and furniture making,” Ann Rockler Jackson, Rockler’s executive chairman, said in a statement.

Rockler also introduced hobbyists and DIYers to specialty items that formerly were only accessible to professionals. His first catalog included many of the same products Rockler still carries today.

“Nordy’s kind and gentle nature attracted many wonderful employees to Rockler over the years, many of whom became great friends. He and his late wife, Bert, supported many arts organizations and charities. He was committed to doing good in the world – with his family, friends, business, community and more,” the company added.

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This article was originally published in the February 2021 issue.

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