Sunbelt began as the Braswell Chain Saw Company in Cheraw, SC. Founded in 1956 by Dave Braswell, the company was originally a Homelite dealership, specializing in rebuilding bars, and remanufacturing cylinders. Through servicing his resellers, Dave recognized a need for additional products. With the addition of different lines of parts and accessories, his business soon evolved from a service-oriented business into a distributorship.
In 1959 Dave Braswell moved the business to Charlotte, NC and renamed it Specialty Welding Company. Business continued to boom in Charlotte, and in 1962 a field sales force was added, selling remanufactured cylinders, bow guide bars and other parts to resellers from delivery trucks. Specialty Welding was well on its way to becoming a prominent parts and accessory distributor. In 1981 Dave changed the name to Sunbelt Outdoor Products, Inc.
During the next two decades Sunbelt would continue to expand its distribution product lines. In 1985, the Parker Hydraulics line was added to accommodate increasing mechanization in the professional logging business. In 1986, Sunbelt Logging Supplies was opened in Aberdeen, NC, which would later move to Charlotte in 1992. Further product expansion included the addition of OEM lines, Walbro, Zama, Kohler, and Briggs and Stratton in 1990. The Arborist product selection was broadened in 2002 to included Marvin Pole Pruners, among others.
While expanding its distributorship, Sunbelt also ventured into developing its own brand of products. In 1981 Sunbelt introduced its own brand of 2-cycle oil, Pro-Mix, and in 1990 added Sunbelt-branded lawn mower and chain saw parts and accessories.
Throughout the company's growth Dave Braswell promoted his product lines and maintained his customer base by marketing his products through specialty catalogs. The first promotional catalogs with special priced parts were printed and mailed to resellers in 1970. Subsequent editions included the first catalog to contain the full line of chain saw parts and accessories, printed in 1988, and Sunbelt's Replacement Parts catalog in 1990.
The rapidly growing business would ultimately necessitate expanding and improving the facilities. In 1990 Sunbelt opened a second warehouse in Macon, Georgia. Additional warehouses were opened in Columbus, OH in December 2001, Syracuse, NY in February 2002, Kansas City, MO in September 2002, and Portland Oregon in May 2004. A 20,000 square foot addition was added to the Charlotte business complex in 1992. To facilitate the steady increase in volume, the Diamond Phoenix carousel and retrieval system was installed in 1996.