Surplus Today Spotlight: Sturm
Tell us about the history of Sturm.
Thomas Sturm started collecting war surplus as a young boy growing up in Germany. In his 20’s, he began a small antique/surplus business in his basement. He grew his business over the years and with the Cold War coming to an end, he saw the opportunity to buy out the East German army surplus. He had a bid to purchase the entire lot of surplus, which he was awarded. He needed a place to store this new investment and he needed it quick. He knew he had to take inventory of the surplus so that it wouldn’t be destroyed. He made a purchase of an East German border guard depot that had once been a sugar factory. It currently sits on the Elbe River in Tangermunde, Germany. Anything a soldier would use besides weapons was being delivered by the train carload. Back then, the trains were coming in daily, one after the other, with surplus. We say everything from toothpicks to tanks was purchased.
In those days the merchandise was literally being dumped on the floor. Mountains of surplus laid on the floor of the warehouse (in some cases for years). Many years and millions of pieces of surplus later, the company has grown into the largest surplus company in the world. With his ever-growing line of military surplus, Thomas Sturm added his manufactured line of goods called Mil-Tec. He has over 50,000 square meters of warehouse space in Germany and approximately 100 employees between his two locations in Tangermunde and Rottenburg, Germany.
Sturm European Military Surplus in the United States was started by Thomas Sturm in 1983 in Virginia as a way to bring European surplus to the U.S. The company moved to Kennesaw, Georgia in the late 80s. The company eventually settled in Cartersville, Georgia in 1998 with the purchase of a 30,000 square foot warehouse, followed later by the purchase of an additional 70,000 square foot warehouse in 2006. With all the moves and 31 years later, the company has grown to what it is today. Sturm in the United States employs eleven full-time employees. The employees are committed to service in a sometimes challenging industry. Sturm USA continues to be a surplus wholesaler including some of the inventory from Mil-Tec products.
Sturm has seen many changes over the years. Surplus is still out there. Members of their German offices and their U.S. office continue to travel the world on buying trips to find new surplus items to offer their customers along with their Mil-Tec items. Sturm stands behind their surplus and their Mil-Tec brand by bringing the most authentic reproduction line of WWII items, along with Mil-Tec items in the hunting, fishing, tactical, outdoor and military categories.
What sort of products do you offer?
Sturm offers a large variety of goods, anything a soldier uses. We specialize in European surplus, but we also carry some U.S. surplus. We carry some products from the “Mil-Tec by Sturm” line of goods. We have container shipments from Germany about once a week.
What are your best sellers?
Genuine, quality military surplus!
What makes Sturm unique?
We have tremendous buying power and some unusual contacts in faraway places. Our buyers search the world for unusual, quality products in large quantities, and at low prices.
What can you tell us about the people that purchase your products?
Since we are a wholesale-only company, our customers are the mom and pop, brick and mortar stores, big box chain retailers, internet and catalog companies.
We have seen our products being used for reenactments, Halloween costumes, Hollywood for the film industry, hunters, outdoors enthusiasts, military, schools, preppers, police departments and collectors.
What advice would you give to family business owners?
Sturm is a family-owned business. Love what you do! Thomas Sturm followed his love of military surplus that began when he was a young boy to eventually starting his own outdoor and tactical line of products called Mil-Tec. All from the start of a basement business and the passion of surplus, he always says, “You got to love what you do.”
He employs a couple hundred people on two continents. There have been struggles and triumphs, cutbacks, layoffs and disappointments, but through it all, he and his family built it and they survived.
What are your favorite features in Surplus Today?
We like Industry News and the Feature Article. We enjoy seeing who’s who (who is still left and who is new and up-and-coming) in the surplus industry.
How do you see the surplus market changing in 2015 and beyond?
With the religious, economic, social and political changes going on all over the world, we never know when one door closes and another one opens. Like when The Cold War ended and Sturm purchased East German surplus. I guess we all have to be in the right place at the right time.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Sturm would like to say “THANK YOU” to the customers small and big throughout the years. Each of you have impacted the growth of Sturm these past 30+ years. Without surplus retailers, the industry would certainly not have survived this long. We wish each of you continued growth with your own story to tell.
We would like to thank Sherice and Jeff Daniel for providing us with information on Sturm.
- STURM-MILTEC USA
- 430 South Erwin Street, Cartersville, GA 30120-3952
- Toll Free – 800-441-7367
- Website – www.sturm-miltec.com
If you would like to be considered for an interview in Surplus Today’s Spotlight, please send an email to editor@SurplusTodayOnline.com