Home Center Company Profile: Menard Inc.
5101 Menard Dr
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The perennial number three in Chain Store Guide’s Index of Leading Companies in our Home Center Operators & Hardware Chains database, Menard achieves this distinction as a regional chain behind national powers Home Depot and Lowe’s. In many ways Menard is the most remarkable of these three most accomplished retailers.
Over the past few years, traditional industry number one Home Depot has had to totally regroup as it rid itself of the radical changes brought on by the Nardelli era. Former CEO Robert Nardelli had been forced to abruptly depart Home Depot, though with a controversial $121 million golden parachute. Not only did the company lose a great deal financially as it divested itself of the Nardelli era’s costly pro dealer acquisitions in a very down recessionary market, it essentially determined to go back to the specific do-it-yourself roots that had been created by the company’s founders. Thus it also closed a number of specialty retail operations including its EXPO Design Centers. These moves were made all the more necessary by the imposing economic stranglehold brought on as a result of the subprime crisis followed by the recession.
Lowe’s too has considerably scaled back on its typical expansion plans and retrenched as it awaits stronger economic times within the industry. In fact Lowe’s made some headlines of its own recently as it closed several stores across the country while admitting they had been underperforming and showed no signs of improving on that picture. When these closings and the reasoning behind them were announced, word got out that the many employees who suddenly were without jobs were given virtually no notice. This from a company that not too long ago was a darling of Wall Street.
Meanwhile, while Menard has reduced annual openings over the past two years the company’s real estate department continues to be aggressive in acquiring sites for its future big, big boxes. This is not a company that shrinks from competition. The company continues to plan its new and future openings in disparate locations as it recently announced it will open a new store in Miami Township,Ohio, after demolishing a shopping center it purchased for $5.36 million. The 201,000-sq.-ft. plaza was anchored by Walmart before the discounter moved to another location. The remaining stores will be torn down to make way for the construction of a $9 million Menards store. Negotiations are currently under way for a possible site as Menard looks to expand its regional grasp to the far off climes of Wyoming.
In addition to expanding through its real estate portfolio, Menard continues to tweak all aspects of its merchandising. The company shook up the industry by being the first chain to add groceries to its product mix after considerable investments in refrigerators and freezers. The company has always prided itself on continuously revising its product selection with an eye toward offering its customers the thrill of the hunt as goods are constantly added and replaced and pricing specials are designed to lure regular customers in on an at least weekly basis.
Even the company’s founding stands unique. Here a single visionary, John Menard founded the retail entity as a single unit solution to the needs of local contractors in 1962 after embarking on a construction business of his own to finance his college education.
John Menard remains the head and guiding light of the company to this day. His son and heir apparent, Paul is a much respected NASCAR driver and interestingly one of the few who seems to get along with other drivers.
Several years ago, at the National Hardware Show, word got out one day that a group of buyers from Home Depot had arrived. A distinct mood of anticipation permeated the show. Later, word circulated that the buyers from Menard had just entered the show. The mood quickly changed to something approaching fear. Preparing for the Home Depot buyers evoked a sense of worry due to the amount of total buying power they represented. Menard’s people however came with a reputation for dealing hard. That is a part of the legacy and genius, yes genius of John Menard.