In country style how Diane Hendricks became the richest self made11 ноября, 2022
In country style how Diana Hendricks became the richest self made. Diane Hendricks had a baby at 17, worked as a waitress at a Playboy nightclub, beat cancer twice and survived her husband’s death before becoming the most successful woman in American business history and a generous contributor to the Republican Party. In the past five years, the businesswoman has tripled her fortune to more than $12 billion.
Diane Hendricks, 75, is ready for her interview but decides to add one final touch and quickly enters the dressing room. She returns with a small American flag pin on the lapel of her fitted jacket. «I love my country very much. How lucky I am to have been born in America! — she exclaims. — There have never been any locked doors in my way. And I’ve never had to think about the fact that I’m a woman and can’t do what I do.»
Hendricks’ patriotism is conspicuous throughout the 880 square metres of her southern Wisconsin home. In her study, she has a statue of Ronald Reagan on horseback, a photo of her and Donald Trump together, and a stack of books with titles like The MAGA Doctrine, Land of Hope and Back in the Game. On the ground floor is a large-format, limited-edition print identical to the one in Trump’s White House: it shows ten Republican presidents (Dwight Eisenhower holding a glass of whisky and teetotaler Trump sipping a Diet Coke). Outside the window is a bronze sculpture of a life-size Great Plains Indian keeping a watchful eye on three Clydesdal horses, which used to be part of the Budweiser beer brand’s promotional activities. In country style how Diana Hendricks became the richest self made
The slogan of Hendricks-owned roofing supplier ABC Supply of Beloit, Wisconsin, is «Fulfilling the American Dream since 1982,» and one of the company’s seven core values is stated as «Pride in America.» All of the firm’s executives are shown a video clip of country musician Lee Greenwood’s «God Bless The U.S.A.» is shown to all company managers and the performer himself often performs at corporate events.
Hendricks believes in the American dream because she is living it herself. As a teenager, she became a mother and worked as a waitress for a time to support herself. In 1982, together with her husband Ken, she co-founded ABC Supply, which later became the largest wholesale supplier of roofing, siding and windows in the United States. After her husband’s death in 2007, the entrepreneur continued the rapid expansion of the business, bought competitors and more than doubled the chain of outlets to 900 locations. In 2021, revenues reached a record $15 billion. «This year, sales will be approximately $18 billion,» the business owner predicts. — We are no longer a small company. Since Ken passed away, it has become five times bigger.»
Hendricks holds 100% of the business, owns a property developer and a holding company with interests in 18 other businesses. Her fortune is estimated at $12.2 billion. Her net worth has tripled in the past five years, a mark no other woman entrepreneur in US history has yet surpassed. By comparison, the second richest self-made woman in America, Judi Faulkner, a pioneer of electronic medical records who also lives in Wisconsin, is worth $6.7 billion.
«I think it’s unlikely Ken would have gotten what Diane did,» says Rob Gerbitz, CEO of real estate agency Hendricks Commercial Properties. The firm recently paid $42 million for a hotel in Santa Barbara, California, and built a Minor League Baseball stadium in Beloit for $40 million. On the road to success, Hendricks is pushing herself to the limit. She aims to make an impact everywhere from national politics and job creation to cancer research and school reform.
«Everyone knows I’m a conservative,» Hendricks declares. Since 1992, she has donated more than $40 million to Republican candidates, including $5 million in gifts to former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and $50,000 to Scott Pruitt, a scandalous Environmental Protection Agency administrator, so he can pay off the lawyers who represented him in a string of ethics proceedings.
One of the biggest problems facing business today, Hendricks says, is the small number of people who truly value their work. «It used to be that every job was a joy. Everyone took pride in what they did,» she reflects. — I am so old and I still go to work because I am still in my right mind. I feel like I’m not doing it all for nothing. Hendricks herself, by the way, wakes up at 5:00 a.m. on weekdays and is out the door by 7:00.
Work ethic in it brought up a dairy farm in Osseo, a small town of nearly 1800 people in Wisconsin. Diane was the fourth of nine daughters. She wasn’t allowed to milk cows or drive a tractor (her father said it was «men’s work»), but she had plenty of responsibilities around the house, including looking after her younger sisters. By the age of 10, the girl realised she wanted a more interesting life than housework. «I don’t want to be a farmer, I don’t want to marry a farmer,» she thought at the time. She wanted to wear a suit and work in the city — Minneapolis, the nearest metropolis to her home.
But in 1964, her plans fell apart when, at age 17, she became pregnant and had to drop out of school. She married the baby’s father and moved 300 km away to Janesville. Three years later, the couple divorced. As a single mother, Diana got a job as a waitress at a Playboy nightclub. «Stuff happens in life,» Hendricks recalled.
Soon she was selling real estate throughout southern Wisconsin, and started selling custom homes. So at the age of 22, she met Ken Hendricks, a contractor specializing in roofing. They married in 1976 and over the next three years bought up 200 old houses, renovated them and began renting them out to college students. «I scrubbed a lot of toilets,» Diane recalls.
In 1982, they mortgaged all their property and obtained a $900,000 loan from a bank to buy two building material shops, where things were not going well. The idea was to buy materials directly from manufacturers and then resell them to contractors and builders like Ken. The unique proposition was a level of customer service unheard of in the industry. Within five years, ABC Supply had grown to 50 shops with annual revenues of around $140 million.
In 1998, sales reached $1 billion, at which time the Hendricks couple recruited David Luck, a senior executive from Bridgestone, the Chicago office of Japanese auto parts maker, as president. Having made him president, the couple began to look for new projects for their business. «She and my dad were eager to help struggling companies, so they saved many from bankruptcy and foreclosure,» explains Konya Hendricks-Schu, one of the entrepreneur’s seven (including four stepchildren).
Then the roof collapsed — literally. On 21 December 2007, Ken came home from a business dinner and went to check on the new roof over the garage. The roof collapsed beneath him, and he died that evening in surgery.
Many expected Hendricks to go out of business. The company was offered to be bought out by a competitor. «They thought that since I was a woman, I would sell everything,» says the owner of ABC Supply. But instead she asked Luck to become CEO and appointed herself chairman of the board.
It was a difficult time, and not just because she had lost her husband of 40 years. Between 2006 and 2009, sales fell by 7% as the property market collapsed. The company had to close shops for the first time.
But in all the turmoil, Hendricks saw a new perspective. Taking advantage of the slump in prices, in 2010 she completed the biggest deal in the history of ABC Supply, buying rival Bradco for $1.6 billion. To raise funds, she ceded 40% of ABC Supply to an outside buyer on condition that she could buy it back in five years. She bought it back sooner than four years later. «I still can’t remember it without trembling,» admits Hendricks. — Because I knew I was risking the company I wanted to put in charge of my children. We would never sell the company. In 2016, Hendricks acquired Chicago-based building materials supplier L&W Supply for $674 million.
Since then, Hendricks has done her best to ensure that her legacy is not limited to roofing materials alone. Her personal project is the renovated Beloit steelworks site. Since Ken’s death, Diane has invested $85 million in the redevelopment of the space. Formerly a metalworking plant, it is now a gleaming complex housing the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the city’s Chamber of Commerce and 46 small businesses employing 1,800 people.
Hendricks has twice beaten cancer (uterine cancer at 33 and breast cancer at 69) and is now chairman of the board at NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which uses nuclear medicine and radioisotope techniques to detect and treat certain forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The woman has already invested $550m in the venture, although annual sales are only $10m.
After learning that less than 20 per cent of Beloit teens get an «A» on literacy tests (which are administered statewide in Wisconsin), the entrepreneur helped fund one urban independent school — a facility called Lincoln Academy opened last year. In addition, Diane’s is expanding its network of boutique hotels and now has them not only in Wisconsin, but also in Indiana, Idaho and California.