Our Beginnings:
The year was 1912; our company began as an automotive repair shop in Saint Louis, Missouri, known as the S. G. Hoffman Magneto Co. In 1913, Sam Hoffman hired J. R. Medart (age 15) for 4 dollars a week to clean old magnetos and deliver them after they were repaired. Also in 1912 at age 14, J. R. “Jimmy” Medart began his repair life. He could be seen daily riding his Indian motorcycle fitted with saddle bags full of parts to repair electrical issues on cars of that era. He wisely catered primarily to doctors who were concentrated in the Saint Louis Mid-Town area (Grand and Delmar). In those days, doctors needed a well running car for house calls and they usually paid in a timely manner. The product lines were magnetos, car (spring type) clocks, starters, generators, alternators, carburetors, windshield wiper motors, etc. By 1925, J. R. Medart had saved enough money to buy Mr. Hoffman’s company. So at the young age of 27 with a lot of practical experience J. R. Medart began building a great company with “Golden Rule Service.” 

Golden Rule Service:

J.R. Medart
J.R. Medart

J. R. Medart applied four simple rules to all of his dealings with manufacturers, customers and employees (associates) from his Rotary experience: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and friendship? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? These don’t sound any different today as they did then.


In1930, the company’s name was changed to Medart Auto Electric Co., Inc. (which better reflected the broader focus in the automotive industry). During these early times of the company and The Great Depression, J. R. Medart on a few occasions became very creative to make payroll. His legacy of caring for his associates can clearly be seen in our company today. He also began the fore-runner of our highly regarded 401K Profit Sharing Program (2006 small company winner in Plan Sponsor Magazine) beginning with insurance annuities in 1944. Because he lost his father at such a young age (11), his desire for families to be taken care of in the loss of a spouse was very great. Electric Auto-Lite (at the time was a great independent company, then later purchased by Ford) became our first major line and needed distribution and education. So service training for dealer customers began and is still deeply embedded in our company today. The company also operated a large drive-in/tune-up shop. At the time in the Midwest it was one of the finest “drive-in” repair garages. When America had over a hundred car companies and just a few electrical and carburetion companies, the need for independent repair was great. All car dealerships with carburetion and electrical needs came to Medart or one of our authorized dealers in southern Illinois and eastern Missouri. In the 50’s and 60’s, an automotive warehouse distribution business was developed and renamed Medart Automotive Warehouse (a division of Medart Auto Electric). We thrived as a company during these times in an area later known as “automotive row” located in the Mid Town area of Saint Louis. During the 70’s competition in the automotive industry greatly intensified and a family decision was reached to sell our legacy automotive business in 1983, but not our roots. It turned out to be a great long term decision to focus in the engine and marine industries

Speed Medart
Speed Medart

By 1968, the founder’s son, Speed Medart (38 at the time), was elected president of the company. He had spent many years in sales and was ready to take the company in different directions.   J. R. Medart became Chairman until his passing in 1978. He lived through two world wars, the Great Depression and spent the rest of his life continuing his education. J. R. Medart helped many people, including those who were down in their lives. The Salvation Army (helping those who wish to help themselves) was his greatest passion outside of business. Speed was involved with many industry trade associations. The first was AEA (Automotive Electric Association). After that was ESA (Engine Service Association). He served on the board and as president in 1974 and 1975. Later he became involved with NMDA (National Marine Distributors Association). He served for many years on the board and later as president in 1991 and 1992. Until his passing in 1995, he quietly helped many people just as his father had.

Michael Medart, a third generation Medart, worked for many years during high school and college in the company doing many different jobs. After finishing graduate school in 1982, Michael spent a number of years in the I.T. operations of the company. In 1988 the opportunity to become sales manager of Medart Engine became available. By 1994 was named president at age 38.  In 1995 Speed Medart passed away after a tough battle with cancer at age 64.

In 1997, Michael was elected to the board of the directors of OPEDA (Outdoor Power Equipment Distributors Association). During 2000 and 2001 he was helpful in merging ESA (engine distributors) with OPEDA (equipment distributors) and created OPEESA (Outdoor Power Equipment & Engine Service Association). In 2002 to 2003 he served as President of OPEESA. Served on the board of directors of NMDA (National Marine Distributors Association) from 1994 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2007. Served as NMDA president from 2005 to 2007.

In 2010 was elected to the board of the NAW (National Association of Wholesale Distributors) Institute for Distribution Excellence in Washington DC.

Air and Liquid Cooled Engine Business: In 1932, this engine business relationship began with a Briggs & Stratton Service Station contract to serve eastern Missouri and the southern Illinois region. At the time Briggs and Stratton was a modest automotive supplier of electrical motors and gasoline engines for washing machines. Later they chose as we did to be focused in the turf and utility engine business.

This industry really began in the 50’s with the development of lightweight aluminum engines. Soon a rotary mower of many shapes and sizes was in almost every suburban home. We represented many mower manufacturers for their parts distribution and technical service. Education of engine technicians became a major focus. Warranty for the engines was also a major concern. In the early 60’s, the Medart Engines and Parts Division was created to distribute Briggs & Stratton, Tecumseh and Kohler engine brands in eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and Kansas. To better serve our western customers we opened a facility in Lenexa (Kansas City area), Kansas, in the early 70’s. In Fenton (St. Louis), Missouri, a new headquarters (office/warehouse) was built and occupied in August 1980. In 1982 Bauer Auto in Memphis, Tennessee was purchased. They had the Tecumseh brand for most of Arkansas, western Kentucky, north and central Mississippi, and most of Tennessee. In 1986, Medart Engine was awarded the Kohler brand to distribute for a somewhat similar area. In 1987, we needed and built a new office/warehouse in southeast Memphis. Shifting north, in 1985, the Nebraska and Iowa regions became our responsibility for Tecumseh and Kohler. Also in 1985, market forces justified a splitting of the engine brands. The Diamond Engine division was born in our former but nicely remodeled facilities in mid-town St. Louis and became an exclusive Briggs & Stratton Central Sales and Service Distributor. Medart Engine continued as an exclusive central distributor for both the Kohler and Tecumseh brands.

In 1988, the corporate name was changed to Medart, Inc. to better reflect the diversification of the company. By November 1990, the assets were purchased of a distributor headquartered in Tulsa, representing Tecumseh and Kohler in the Oklahoma region. By the fall of 1993, ground was broken in Edwardsville, Kansas (western Kansas City) for a larger facility for Medart Engine/Medart Marine. By October of 1994, this facility was fully operational and needed for our continued growth. In November of 1994, we remodeled our existing Lenexa, Kansas (southwest Kansas City) facility for Diamond Engine’s new divisional headquarters. Advances in shipping efficiencies allowed us in the fall of 1996 to consolidate the Tulsa operation into the Edwardsville, Kansas facility. During the early summer of 1997, we sold our downtown St. Louis Diamond Engine facility and moved into leased space in Earth City, Missouri, for two years. We had out grown our Fenton facility and by the fall of 1997, Medart purchased 9.1 acres in the southern Saint Louis region (Arnold, Missouri). Within six months another 4.6 acres adjacent to the 9.1 were acquired. In July 1998, we broke ground on two buildings, totaling 121,000 square feet. One of the two buildings was for Diamond Engine (Eastern Division); the other building was for Medart Engine/Medart Marine. By March 1999, both facilities were fully operational. By the late summer of 1999, the Colorado region became available for Medart Engine for the Tecumseh brand. By April 2000, we completed an expansion in our Edwardsville, Kansas facility to accommodate the continued growth from this location. In 2003, we moved our Memphis branch into a new 90,000 square-foot facility located in Olive Branch, Mississippi (southeastern Memphis). In 2003, we also began representing Kohler as a distributor in Louisiana. In 2004, the Diamond Engine operating division assets were sold to Midwest Engine in a Briggs & Stratton grand distribution restructuring plan. Our Golden Rule service never let these customers suffer throughout this transition.  In mid 2008 the Tecumseh brand of engine ceased to be produced. Fortunately the Kohler engine brand continues to expand greatly with new engines of smaller horsepower horizontal models all the way up to larger horsepower models of diesel (Kohler purchased Lombardini of Italy in early 2008), as well as portable generators. By late 2007 and early 2008 we fully split our marine and engine operations in Saint Louis. The additional space allowed the engine (and marine) division to create a much higher level of order processing. Also in Saint Louis by early 2009 we created a production line to modify and/or add components to engines for our OEM customers. Adjacent to this line we created a way to customize saw chain for our Oregon brand customers.  

Marine Supply Business
We purchased the marine assets from the then St. Louis Toro Distributor, Sterling Distributing in 1972, Medart Marine was born and was operated in a separate location in mid-town St. Louis. By 1980, we moved the Marine Division into our Fenton facility. In 1981 we expanded marine into our Memphis facility. In 1994, we expanded Marine into our Kansas City facility in Edwardsville, Kansas. In 2004, we acquired the distribution assets of Beacon Marine in New Orleans and Mobile from the Hymel family. In 2011 we had greatly out grown our Mobile facility and moved to a new 35,000 square foot facility on 14 acres in Mobile AL.