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Private company
Industry Retail (Home Improvement)
Founded 1960; 55 years ago (1960)
Headquarters Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Key people
John Menard, Jr. (President)
Scott Collette (Chief Operating Officer)
Charlie Menard (General Manager Distribution, Manufacturing and Logistics)
Gaylen Heckman (Operations Manager)
Products Building materials, tools, hardware, garden supplies, electrical supplies, ceiling fans, light fixtures, cabinets, home appliances, doors, windows, paint, wood stain, wallpaper, plumbing supplies, carpet, vinyl, linoleum, groceries, automotive
Revenue $7.9 billion (Dec 2013)(Forbes)
Number of employees
Slogan Save Big Money at Menards!

Menards is a chain of home-improvement centers in the Midwestern United States.

The privately held company, headquartered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has approximately 285 stores in 14 states: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Kentucky. It is the third largest home improvement chain in the United States, behind The Home Depot and Lowe's.[1]

Company history[edit]

In 1959, John Menard, Jr. began building post-frame buildings to finance his college education. By the end of 1959, Menard found it necessary to hire extra crews, and to purchase more equipment to keep up with demand. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire in 1962, Menard purchased land in Eau Claire and built an office and shop. The company was founded in 1960[2] and incorporated in 1962.[3]

Because post-frame building customers often inquired about the possibility of purchasing lumber and other products, Menard opened the first Menards Cashway Lumber.

In 1969, Menard began adding manufacturing plants at the Eau Claire site. These plants included facilities for making trusses, treated lumber, boards, pre-hung doors, steel and nails. A distribution center was also added.

In 1972, Menard opened his first hardware store.

On July 15, 1980, Menards' headquarters in Eau Claire was seriously damaged by the severe weather of the Western Wisconsin Derecho.

In 1994, Menards sold the post-frame building division.

In 1998, Menards opened a second distribution center in Plano, Illinois.

In 2005, Menards created an eCommerce website called Menards Online Collections. All eCommerce for the company is now handled by the website.

In 2007, Menards opened their third and fourth distribution centers in Holiday City, Ohio, and Shelby, Iowa, which are 669,000 square feet (62,200 m2) and 735,000 square feet (68,300 m2), respectively.[4]

Family-run business[edit]

John Menard Jr.'s brother, Larry, served as Menards’ Operations Manager for 40 years. Larry retired on March 31, 2009. Larry's son, Charlie, served as the COO until October 2007 when he became Manager of the Eau Claire Distribution center. John Menard, III ("J.R." Menard), is the Corporate Treasurer.

Store structure[edit]

Exterior of the Menards store in Ankeny, Iowa. An example of the older exterior.

All Menards stores share a common structure. Each store is primarily divided by departments: building materials, hardware, electrical, millwork, wall coverings, plumbing and housewares, floor coverings, cabinets and appliances, groceries and garden center. Other areas of the store include the front end (cashiers, office functions, carry outs) and the receiving crew (responsible for the lumber yard, shipments between the store and the distribution centers, and other delivery and merchandise logistics). In a typical store there is a store manager, two assistant managers, a department manager and one or two assistant managers for each department, and sales floor staff.

Menards stores are divided into categories based on store size and product range. These categories range from P1 (prototype size 1) to P5 (prototype size 5), Hardware Plus (smaller than a P1 with fewer building materials item selections), and non-prototype (usually stores that have moved into pre-existing locations or locations where large prototype stores will not fit, such as the two-story stores).

In 2007, the 240,000 sq ft (22,000 m2) and larger Menards stores began selling groceries.[5]

In March 2005, the company opened the first two-story, 300,000 sq ft (28,000 m2) Menards megastore in St. Paul, Minnesota. It followed in November 2006 with another two-story store in Hodgkins, Illinois. In March 2009, Menards opened its third 2-story megastore in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. The largest Menards in the United States, it has two glass elevators, two massive industrial escalators, and a snack shop. 148,000 sq ft lumber yard and additional outdoor garden area.


For many years, Menards' television commercials featured free-lance announcer Ray Szmanda, who became a cult figure as "the Menards Guy." In the late 1990s, a young, hands-on woman temporarily took the role in Szmanda's absence. Recent commercials feature Bo Landry, although, a cartoon version of "the Menards Guy" still appears in Menards' print ads and in some in-store signs. The commercials end with the well-known jingle, "Save big money at Menards." During the Christmas shopping season the jingle changes to "Warm seasons greetings to you all from Menards!" as well as Spanish language commercials ending with "Guarda mucho dinero en Menards!"

Menards commercials are accompanied with banjo music played by Gary Shaw of Wisconsin.[6] In reference to creating the musical piece, Shaw said, "I just started playing on it and they said, 'That's perfect; that's exactly what we need.' Took me a half an hour. I got $50 for a one-time fee, and I've had to listen to that commercial every day for 20 years." Spanish commercials are accompanied with a mariachi mix of the banjo accompaniment.

Industry ranking[edit]

Menards store in West Lafayette, Indiana

In 2013, Menard, Inc., was ranked 43rd on Forbes’ list of "America's Largest Private Companies", with an estimated revenue of USD$8.3 billion.[7] The company is believed to be the third largest (by sales) home improvement company in the United States, behind The Home Depot and Lowe's.

Racing interests[edit]

Founder John Menard, Jr. is active in auto racing. He started Team Menard, which raced at the Indy 500. Menards also sponsors drivers in other leagues. It has had its best success with its Team Menards Indy 500 efforts in 1994, 1995, and 1996. In 2004 it affiliated with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.. Since then, most of Earnhardt's Busch Series wins have been in Menards-liveried cars. Following Earnhardt's move to Hendrick Motorsports, the Menards logo is now mainly found on the #27 Richard Childress Racing car of Paul Menard, John Jr.'s son. Paul Menard previously drove for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., from 2004 to 2008 and Richard Petty Motorsports from 2009 to 2010, and gave father John his first win at Indianapolis in 2012. Menards also sponsors 2013 Truck Series champion Matt Crafton and 10-time ARCA Racing Series Champion Frank Kimmel, as well as the ARCA series itself.


Menards has been involved in a number of incidents concerning environmental regulations, including:

  • Wisconsin DNR officials have cited Menards at least 13 times since 1976 for ignoring or violating state regulations related to air and water pollution and hazardous waste.[8]
  • In 1994, Wisconsin obtained a civil judgment against Menards for the unlicensed transportation and disposal of ash produced by incinerating "CCA"-treated lumber. Wood treated with CCA contains chromium, copper, and arsenic – both chromium VI and arsenic are categorized by the US EPA as carcinogens. It is considered hazardous waste and requires proper disposal in a licensed landfill. The company was fined $160,000.[8]
  • In 1997, John Menard was found using his personal pickup truck to haul plastic bags of chromium and arsenic-laden wood ash to his home for disposal with his household trash. Menard pleaded no contest to felony and misdemeanor charges involving records violations, unlawful transportation, and improper disposal of hazardous waste. Menard and his company were fined $1.7 million for 21 violations.[8]
  • In 2003, the Minnesota attorney general charged that Menards manufactured and sold arsenic-tainted mulch in packaging labeled “ideal for playgrounds and for animal bedding.” Warning labels from the CCA-treated wood were found in the mulch. The EPA recommends that CCA-treated wood not be converted into mulch. As of 2008 the case was still pending.[8]
  • In 2005, Menards agreed to a $2 million fine after Wisconsin DNR officials found a floor drain in a company shop that they believed was used to dump paint, solvents, oil and other waste into a lagoon that fed into a tributary of the Chippewa River. The sanction broke the previous record fine of $1.7 million set by Menard in 1997.[8]
  • In 2006, the construction of a $112 million warehouse became a campaign issue in the Wisconsin governor’s race. The warehouse was to be erected by filling in a 0.6-acre (0.24 ha) bean field the DNR considered a seasonal wetland used by migrating tundra swans. Menards offered to build a wetland more than twice its size as a replacement, but was rejected by Scott Humrickhouse, a DNR regional director. Humrickhouse said that solution could be used “only when every alternative for saving the original wetland was exhausted.” The increasingly heated dispute got considerable media coverage, with a DNR warden calling Menards’ general counsel a “legal bitch” and the company threatening to move jobs out of Wisconsin. Tempers seemed to cool after Gov. Jim Doyle arranged $4.2 million in state aid to help the company expand its Eau Claire manufacturing headquarters. Menard had previously contributed $20,000 to Doyle’s campaign.[8]


  1. ^ "Menard on the Forbes America's Largest Private Companies List". Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  2. ^ "About Us at Menards". Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ Carlyle, Erin (Dec 16, 2013). "Meet The Best Hardware Store In the Nation, And The Midwestern Billionaire Who Built It: John Menard Jr.". Forbes. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Menards is building centers in Iowa, Ohio instead of Eau Claire". La Crosse Tribune. 
  5. ^ Doris Hajewski (April 13, 2007). "Got milk at Menards?". Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  6. ^ "Ditties for the decades". Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "America's Largest Private Companies". November 9, 2006. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Big Money - Features". Milwaukee Magazine. April 30, 2007. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Menards Faces EPA Administrative Order For Damaging South Dakota Stream". EPA. 2006-03-08. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 

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