Ace Hardware Franchise Overview
About Ace Hardware
Ace Hardware is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world with more than 5,400 locally owned and operated hardware stores in approximately 70 countries. Headquartered in Oak Brook, IL, Ace and its subsidiaries operate an expansive network of distribution centers in the U.S. and have distribution capabilities in Ningbo, China; Colon, Panama; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Since 1924, Ace has become a part of local communities around the world and known as the place with the helpful hardware folks.
Ace Hardware is a hardware store that was formed in 1924 by Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Lindquist, Frank Burke and Oscar Fisher in Chicago, Illinois. The company became a cooperative in 1973. By 1976 Ace became a retailers' cooperative. Independent owners became dealer-owners and shareholders in the company. Because it's a co-op and not a franchise, each Ace store looks different. Ace has placed a focus on Ace stores exhibiting some similar characteristics, such as signaled and core product lines. The Vision 21 program, as this is called, is aimed to make all stores look identical. This is causing much resistance from the smaller stores because of the cost of the program. As of 2005, the $13 billion retail hardware cooperative contains over 4,600 independent stores throughout the United States and in 70 different countries. Ace Hardware was named after the Ace fighter pilots of World War I, who were able to overcome all odds. Their long-time slogan — The helpful hardware place — has been replaced by The helpful place. Another change came when their longtime jingle — "Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man" — was modified with the more gender-neutral "folks" replacing "man." Much of their advertising since 1987 features John Madden, a former NFL coach and announcer. Prior to John Madden, Suzanne Somers was a spokesperson for Ace Hardware but was dropped because of a previously issued topless poster for an unknown sporting goods brand. Home improvement expert Lou Manfredini currently serves as ACE's "Helpful Hardware Man" and media spokesperson. Ray Griffith currently serves as the President and CEO of ACE Hardware Corporation and has served in that position since taking over for Dave Hodnik. Hodnik had served as ACE's leader since 1996. Tom Glenn serves as Chairman of the Board. ACE Hardware Corporation now does over $3 billion in hardline sales and $100 million in net profits.
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