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Sixty years ago Norm Coghlan founded Coghlan’s Ltd. with the Camp Stove Toaster, establishing the foundation for what would become the largest single brand of camping accessories in the world. Prior to forming his own company, Norm Coghlan sold lanterns, camp stoves, and parts primarily to the hardware market in the United States and Canada.
In 1959, he bought a small service depot in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and operated it as a private company. At that time, the newly born Coghlan’s Gas Appliances concentrated on the natural gas heating market that was growing in Winnipeg. Norm Coghlan also added camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags and air mattresses. Many campers would come in to the store to get their camp stoves and lanterns serviced, and at the same time they would buy or rent other camping equipment.
Customers who came to the store wanted a way to make toast on their pump-up gasoline camp stove. Norm bought this product from a U.S. based company and they sold very readily in Coghlan’s retail store. After inquiring with the toaster manufacturer, Norm found out that the toaster was being discontinued, he bought their entire inventory, rented a storage facility and this began Coghlan’s distribution of camping accessories; facilitating people’s outdoor enjoyment across the globe.
As popularity grew for accessories over the years and the line expanded, we added a central warehouse in St. Paul, Minnesota, in addition to our Winnipeg, Manitoba warehouse - eventually shipping to over 40 countries worldwide. To keep up with demand, Coghlan’s teamed up with Opportunity Partners in the US and ImagineAbility in Canada, two companies that offer meaningful work for people with disabilities. Both Opportunity Partners and ImagineAbility assemble and package products and assist in fulfilling orders. Coghlan’s was Opportunity Partners’ first large client and is their oldest. This partnership has made it possible for people with disabilities to earn wages and prosper in the community for more than 50 years. It is this relationship that sets us apart, allowing us to give back to our community and provide meaningful work to those who take great pride in a job well done.
In 2015, Coghlan’s acquired the McNett Corporation based out of Bellingham, Washington. McNett has been servicing the outdoors market for 35 years under the brands Gear Aid, M Essentials, McNett Tactical, Outgo and Aquamira. Now called Gear Aid, the product line features over 100 products to make you get more from your gear, improve your odds in the field and travel smarter. Together, Coghlan’s and Gear Aid are expanding their already large product offering to lead the outdoor accessory market and beyond.
Today, tradition holds true. The Camp Stove Toaster is still in the product line - but now alongside over 500 accessories that make being in the outdoors more enjoyable. Coghlan’s provides superior product and packaging, outstanding customer service, and maintains community relationships to make us the first choice in outdoor accessories.
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