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Ace Hardware: the world’s second largest retail cooperative
Located in all 50 of the United States, Ace Hardware’s emphasis is on service and up-to-the-minute retailing techniques.
Home improvement is big, really big. People across the nation are fixing up, restoring and modernizing their homes and DIY has become part of our lifestyle. In 2018, the total home improvement sales in the United States amounted to 394 billion U.S. dollars. So, how does Ace Hardware keep up with the powerful home improvement chains like Home Depot and Lowes?
Their success stems directly from the mission, “to be a total retail support company, providing its dealer-owners with merchandise and service at the lowest possible front-end cost.”
Let’s go back to the beginning…
Almost 100 years ago, in 1924 to be exact, “Ace Stores” was founded in Oak Brook, Illinois, by Richard Hesse, Frank Burke, Oscar Fisher, E. Gunnard Linquist, and William Stauber. Each of these men owned their own hardware store in Chicago and they united to form a purchasing and advertising partnership. With their combined buying power, they were able to negotiate lower wholesale prices from their suppliers. The partners adopted the Ace name in 1927, and incorporated the following year.
The company’s bulk purchases were stored in its Chicago warehouse, which further reduced their costs.
Between the late 1940’s and 1959, Ace Hardware grew in leaps and bounds, tripling its wholesale sales to a grand total of $24.5 million from 325 stores.
In 1973, after more than 40 years as president of Ace, Richard Hesse retired and the company was sold to its retailers. Thus, was born the retailer-owned cooperative.
The year 1985 marked the company’s first $1 billion in wholesale sales and in 2015, the company celebrated $5 billion.
In 2012, Ace Hardware acquired Westlake Ace Hardware for $88 million, its largest-ever member. As of 2016, Ace Hardware was ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores” for ten consecutive years by J. D. Power.
The Ace Hardware co-op manufactures its own line of paints under the name of Clark Kensington and also supplies other products under the Ace brand.
Ace operates 17 distribution centers in the United States, and additional distribution facilities in China, Panama, and United Arab Emirates.[
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