A History of Cat5
As an Internet Retailer Top 500 e-retailer, Cat5 Commerce operates a handful of e-commerce stores catering to the tactical, military and work markets. It has been our mission to deliver an extraordinary shopping experience to our customers. We accomplish this through custom application development, comprehensive online marketing strategies and a customer-centric approach to business.
2004 Where it all started
It all started with three letters—B, D and U. In 2004, Chad Weinman launched an online store, BDU.COM, from his one-bedroom apartment. BDU is a reference to the famous Battle Dress Uniform, the fatigues worn by our nation's Armed Forces for decades. Chad was no stranger to the military community and had just the right marketing perspective for the store to take off.
At the time, keyword exact-match domains were heavily favored by search-engine algorithms, and BDU.COM was able to capitalize on this trend.
2009 A custom experience
In 2009 Cat5 was busy spinning up new stores in various markets, at one point operating 10 different stores. And Cat5's leadership had plans for our e-commerce storefronts that outpaced what was available off the shelf. They made the risky and expensive decision to hire a team of talented developers to build a custom e-commerce platform for Cat5. This platform has been continually evolved in the ensuing years and is consistently getting new features. The ability to be nimble and respond immediately to novel marketing concepts, new technologies or dramatic changes in the digital landscape has been a critical component of our ongoing success.
2012 Community involvement
Empowered by our achievements and prosperity so far, Cat5 began exploring ways we could use our platform to better our community. We handpicked three nonprofits to support:
The Mission Continues
Not only does the Cat5 team raise funds for The Mission Continues, our staff enthusiastically participates in the organization's local service projects. Cat5ers work side-by-side with The Mission Continues veterans to better the neighborhoods we call home; revitalizing the St. Louis Fire Department, cleaning up conservation centers, building outdoor learning centers for the local children, and much more. The firsthand look into what The Mission Continues does for our customers, friends and city is a constant reminder of why we align ourselves with this organization.
Soles for Souls
Cat5 has been helping to raise money and increase awareness for a charity very close to our heart, Soles4Souls. This Nashville-based nonprofit donates shoes to victims of disaster and poverty worldwide.
Adequate footwear prevents the spread of disease and soil-transmitted parasites. Soles4Souls helps those in need by distributing millions of used, new and donated footwear in over 127 countries.
Cat5 believes in empowering students to become leaders in the American workforce, so we fully stand behind the mission of SkillsUSA. This organization is a partnership of teachers and industry professionals working to instill personal, workplace and technical skills in our nation's youth. Through our online store WorkBoots.com, customers have the option to show their support to SkillsUSA by offering a donation with their order.
2014 Streamlining into superstores
The next step in our evolution was to consolidate behind select, core brands. Cat5 decided to merge many of our e-commerce destinations to create streamlined, all-inclusive superstores.
Perhaps the most dramatic was the consolidation of the websites formerly known as GunHolsters.com, TacticalPants.com, BDU.COM, MilitaryBoots.com and MilitaryGear.com into a single site - TacticalGear.com. TacticalGear.com draws upon the expertise of each e-commerce destination, combining that knowledge with even more top brands, outstanding customer service and competitive pricing on one user-friendly storefront.
2016 The birth of a new brand
After more than a decade of experience in tactical gear, Cat5 realized there was a gap in the industry we could fill. This resulted in the launch of Mission Made. The culmination of dedicated research and development by our in-house team, the brand puts a contemporary twist on conventional tactical designs to serve professionals in ever-evolving environments. The product lineup includes outdoor-inspired lifestyle accessories and combat apparel. Mission Made products tout several patent-pending technologies, including a proprietary RFID-blocking fabric and a protective hexagonal-patterned layer that aids in surface grip.
2020 Demand surges for PPE
The COVID-19 outbreak brought unexpected challenges to many businesses, and Cat5 was no exception. As a leading supplier to first responders, critical infrastructure and other essential businesses, the company had to expand and adapt to service the growing needs during the pandemic. Despite supply chain issues and inventory shortages, Cat5 had a banner year with record sales.
2021 A new HQ
In November, we broke ground on a 210,000-square-foot state-of-the-art complex where Cat5 will be the anchor tenant. It’s a sad farewell to the only office building Cat5 has ever called home, but the company's growth became too much for the original HQ to handle. The new headquarters, Commerce Park West, are located on the technology corridor in St. Charles County, with direct access to Highway 64. It offers premium office space alongside a modern distribution platform, allowing for the latest in warehouse automation and robotics. Centralizing facilities under one roof will help ease growing pains and set the framework for the next decade of growth.
Voted best place to work
Cat5 has continually been named a Top Workplace by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. To make the list, organizations must meet strict standards for organizational health. Employers are rated on seven different factors, including but not limited to health, effectiveness, values, cooperation and connection. Cat5 Commerce was recognized for its top-tier benefits package and extracurricular company events.
Today and beyond Present day
Current day Cat5 is just as committed to ecommerce excellence as we were at our inception—our team is just a whole lot bigger now. With multiple locations, more than 180 vendors and tens of millions in revenue, we service hundreds of thousands of customers every year. We may be far from the start-up company we once were, but we still continue to operate with that same ethos. It's our people, working with constant creativity and ingenuity, that keep our momentum moving forward and our business strong.