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Ace Hardware Turns 90

Ace Hardware Corporation celebrated its 90th anniversary this year. Founded in Chicago in 1924 by five independent hardware store owners, Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Lindquist, Frank Burke, Oscar Fischer and William Stauber, these entrepreneurs united their hardware businesses to increase their collective buying power.

In 2014 the Oak Brook, Illinois-based corporation has more than 4,850 helpful hardware stores across the globe, employing approximately 100,000 retail associates. It is powered by a world-class supply chain and a global merchandising network. Ace retailers, its franchisees, continue to be not just the local owners of their retail stores but also the only shareholders of Ace Hardware Corporation.

Major events for Ace:

  • 1924: Uniting their Chicago area hardware stores to increase buying power, Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Lindquist, Frank Burke, Oscar Fisher and William Stauber forge the beginning of Ace.
  • 1930s: The "Ace Creed" was composed. It was a pledge by its affiliated hardware dealers to conduct their business affairs by.
  • 1954: Ace Store dealers agree during convention to change all of their signs to Ace Hardware in recognition of Ace's growing status as a national brand
  • 1973: Richard Hesse resigns as Ace president, selling the company to its retailers for $6 million, making Ace a pure retailer-owned cooperative by 1976.
  • 1989: Others begin to copy Ace's franchisee cooperative model for growth

"It's a privilege to lead this great company; a company that has grown quite large but to this day is still comprised primarily of local, family businesses around the globe," said John Venhuizen, President and CEO, Ace Hardware Corporation. "I believe our five founders would be exceedingly proud to see the small business success and servant hearts of Ace beating strong after all these years."

Despite being a nearly century-old company, Ace is not content to sit idle with the status quo, in fact the health of Ace as an organization has never been stronger. Reported in February 2014, Ace's 2013 total revenue grew 8.2% to $4.2 billion and its net income grew 28% to $104.5 million; both being records for the company.

"Ace is in the fortuitous position of having a clear strategy, unified purpose and shared values across the entire enterprise, all built upon the bedrock of our founders and their values." Venhuizen said. "And while there are always plenty of things for which we will be productively paranoid, I'm quite convinced that our local Ace retailers have their brightest days ahead of them."


Find more historical milestones on Ace's interactive company timeline.

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Don Sniegowski is editor of Blue MauMau, the daily news journal for franchise & small business owners. Call him at +1 (270) 321-1268, tweet @bluemaumau or email don@bluemaumau.org.