Hardware Retailing

MAY 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2018 156 360 Who Is John Menard? The story of Menards is incomplete without a short biography of founder John Menard, who not only built the company, but has also directed its course for decades. Born in 1940, Menard was the oldest of eight children and "learned the value of hard work and frugality" while doing chores on his parents' dairy farm in Wisconsin, Mary Van de Kamp Nohl writes in Milwaukee Magazine. In the 1950s, Menard was a young man working to pay for college in Eau Claire who saw an opportunity for entrepreneurship. 7 Menard set out to start his own business when he left his high school job to construct pole buildings. His customers asked to buy building materials,so he went into retail, opening the precursor to today's Menards stores, Menard Cashway Lumber. 11 In business, Menard is detail-oriented, thrifty and an opportunist, similar to many retail entrepreneurs who built large companies in the 20th century. 11 Like Sam Walton, who founded Walmart, Menard has been carefully frugal, opting for a lowest-price-possible retail model and negotiating heavily with vendors to slash product costs. 11 Also like Walton, he is willing to try selling a broad array of products in his stores, including groceries, diapers and toys, alongside traditional home improvement departments such as electrical supplies and lumber and building materials. Menard stands out as eclectic, with a penny-pinching approach to business but a famous, expensive interest in car racing. 11 In addition, he has provided material for tabloid-style writing due to friendships and fallings out with other billionaires, including President Donald Trump. 12 In a 2013 article, Forbes reports that Menard told the magazine he no longer runs his retail chain. However, "insiders say he still oversees the smallest details, from the material for store parking lots to answering company mail," Forbes says. Perhaps confirming active involvement in the company, Menard made a public appearance with car dealer Tom Kelley in March to announce a business partnership that would include expanding two Menards stores in Indiana. 13 Regardless of how active he is in the company currently, Menard, at nearly 80 years old, is the wealthiest Wisconsin resident and one of the richest people in the U.S. 4 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 11 Milwaukee Magazine, April 30, 2007 12 Indianapolis Monthly, Indianapolis Business Journal 13 The Journal Gazette, March 7, 2018, Fort Wayne, Indiana

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