The Kobalt Tools line was created by Lowe's Cos. to be the private brand of tools at its Lowe's home improvement stores across the country. The Kobalt name is owned by Lowe's, which is based in Mooresville, North Carolina. Manufacturing began as a partnership between Lowe's and tool manufacturer J.H. Williams, but production has since changed to other vendors.
Lowe's created the Kobalt Tool brand in 1998 to have a similar product line to its main competitors. Home Depot has a house brand named Husky, and Sears has long offered Craftsman Tools. Kobalt Tools allows Lowe's to have an additional revenue stream for exclusive products just as its competition does. The Kobalt brand includes more than 1,700 different products, including hand tools and power tools.
Lowe's was founded in North Carolina in 1946. Since then, it has grown into the second largest home improvement store in the world, behind Home Depot. Lowe's has more than 1,800 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The company is also involved in a joint venture in Australia with Woolworths Ltd. Lowe's, a Fortune 100 company, had sales of more than $53 billion in 2013.
Kobalt Tools, along with Lowe's, markets to fans of auto racing. Kobalt has a line of tools for auto mechanics, making it a natural audience for the brand. Kobalt Tools is the title sponsor for a professional auto race, the Kobalt Tools 400, a Sprint Cup stock car race held every year in Las Vegas. The company previously sponsored the Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR event in Arizona. Kobalt and Lowe's also sponsor the No. 48 NASCAR race car driven by Jimmie Johnson.
J.H. Williams, now part of Snap-On Industrial Brands, was the original manufacturer of Kobalt Tools. Over the years, the manufacture of the tools has changed hands more than once. In 2011, Lowe's shifted production of its mechanics' hand tools to JS Products Inc. of Las Vegas.