Harbor Freight Tools Expands Payroll 50% in Past Year

Harbor Freight Tools, a Camarillo firm that sells tools, machinery and equipment by mail order and through its own retail stores, has increased its payroll by about 50% in the past year as part of an ongoing expansion.

The company now has 450 employees at its headquarters on Mission Oaks Boulevard, representing an increase of 150 since mid-1992, according to Vice President Jerry Dammeier.

In addition, Harbor has 200 employees in 23 retail stores in California, Nevada and Kentucky, Dammeier said. He said five new stores were opened in the past year.

Most of the new employees in Camarillo are part of Harbor’s nationwide mail-order operation, which in the past year grew to a six-day work week, Dammeier noted.


Earlier this year, the company completed a $5-million building program that added 159,000 square feet to its distribution center and corporate headquarters. The Camarillo complex, which includes a retail outlet, now totals 267,000 square feet.

Founded in North Hollywood in 1967, Harbor moved to Camarillo eight years ago. The firm carries more than 7,000 items and has 2 million customers nationwide, ranging from do-it-yourselfers to professional mechanics and construction workers.

“Until a few years ago, we were known as Harbor Freight Salvage,” Dammeier said. “We took the ‘Salvage’ out of the name because everything we sell is new.”

As for “Harbor Freight,” that’s based on tradition more than anything else, he added. “We’re much too big these days to be going down to the harbor to bid on crates of tools that come in.”