Top 250 Franchise by Entrepreneur – Rank no.37 – Ace Hardware Corp. – US
Products & Services: Hardware & home-improvement store
Number of Locations: 4,753
Total Investment: $750K – 1.25M
Began Franchising: 1976
About Ace Hardware Corp.
Ace Hardware’s history begins in 1924, when four hardware store owners, Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Lindquist, Franke Burke and Oscar Fisher, joined together to buy merchandise in bulk in order to maximize their profits and compete effectively with larger stores. Over 80 years later, the cooperative has grown to include over 4,600 stores in seven countries, each offering a variety of home improvement merchandise, including Ace’s own exclusive line of products.
Startup Costs, Ongoing Fees and Financing
Franchise Fee: $5,000
Term of Franchise Agreement: Term of agreement not renewable
Net Worth: $400,000
Liquid Cash Available: $250,000
22% of all franchisees own more than one unit. Number of employees needed to run franchised unit: 15 – 25. Absentee ownership of franchise is allowed. (80% of current franchisees are owner/operators).
|FINANCING TYPE||IN-HOUSE||THIRD PARTY|
How This Franchise Supports Franchisees
Franchise Ranking History
|Founded||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.(1924)|
|Headquarters||Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S.|
|Number of locations||4,077 (2012)|
|Employees||100,000 (2008 – 4th Qtr.)|
The Ace Hardware Corporation is a hardware cooperative based in Oak Brook, Illinois, United States. Ace Hardware Corporation, with 4,077 (2012) stores, does over $3 billion in retail hardware sales annually down from its peak of $12.5 billion in 2007.
Ace Hardware was founded in 1924 by Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Lindquist, Frank Burke, and Oscar Fisher in Chicago, Illinois. Ace Hardware, incorporated in 1928 as Ace Stores Inc., was founded to provide a centralized purchasing organization to supply the founders’ and members’ stores. The company was named after the ace fighter pilots of World War I, who were able to overcome all odds. Its retail network expanded to hundreds of dealers by 1949, when annual sales reached about $10 million.
After Hesse retired in 1973, Ace was sold to its retailers, becoming a cooperative, and the headquarters moved to suburban Oak Brook. Independent owners became dealer-owners and shareholders in the company. Because it is a co-op and not a franchise, each Ace Hardware 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 recognizable as an Ace Hardware.
Ace Hardware’s long-time slogan The helpful hardware place has been replaced by The helpful place. Another change came when[when?] its 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 National Football League coach and announcer. In some commercials, he uses football quotes.
Home improvement expert Lou Manfredini serves as Ace’s “Helpful Hardware Man” and media spokesperson.
Ray Griffith is the President and CEO of Ace Hardware Corporation and has served in that position since taking over for Dave Hodnik in 2005. Hodnik had served as Ace’s leader since 1996. David Ziegler serves as Chairman of the Board. Ace Hardware Corporation now does over $3 billion in hardware sales annually and had $12.5 billion in retail sales during 2007.
In 2012, Ace Hardware acquired its largest member, Westlake Ace Hardware, for $88 million.
Pt. Ace Hardware Indonesia Tbk. (IDX: ACES) has opened the world’s largest 14,695 square metre Ace Hardware shop in Living World Mall Alam Sutera, South Tangerang, Indonesia. On December 2, 2011 there were 52 Ace Hardware shops in Indonesia.The brand is also sold in Barbados, through the chain Dacosta Mannings. The chain has stores all over the Philippines, usually inside shopping malls.
In 2010, Tim-Br Mart Group entered into an agreement to acquire licensing rights to the Ace brand name in Canada and appointed Eddie Durocher, as national director of the Ace brand. 
The deal included two hardware distribution operations formerly the assets of CanWel Hardware and also provided Tim-Br Marts Ltd. ownership of the ‘Pro’ name plus licensing rights to the ‘Ace’ brand name in Canada. Financing for the transaction was provided by HSBC.