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Ace Hardware - The history

Ace stores were established because of entrepreneurs like Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Lindquist, Frank Burke and Oscar Fisher combining resources to increase buying power and profits in 1924. Ace stores were named after the ace fighter pilots of World War I, who became overcomers against all the odds. The store was incorporated in 1928, and the company opened its first warehouse a year later. In 1931, the name was changed to Ace Hardware Corporation.

As of the late 1940s, Ace had wholesale sales of not less than $7 million from the 133 stores it supplied. The company had more than tripled this figure, with wholesale sales of $24.5 million from 325 stores by 1959.

Longtime president and founder Richard Hesse retired in 1973. The company was after that sold to its retailers and restructured as a cooperative, moving its headquarters to Oak Brook, Illinois. Autonomous retailers became the sole shareholders of the company. The strategy proved successful, and Ace exceeded $1 billion in wholesale sales for the first time in 1985; it went on to pass $5 billion in 2015.

Ace Hardware procured its largest member, Westlake Ace Hardware, for $88 million in 2012. The following year, Ace’s president and CEO John Venhuizen launched 20/20 Vision, a plan to use network power to provide better customer service. J. D. Power has ranked Ace Hardware "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores" for ten consecutive years as of 2016.

In 2014, Ace started its wholesale distribution network through the acquisition of Emery Waterhouse in New England and Jensen Distribution Services in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Later that year, Ace expanded its wholesale operations coast-to-coast with the formation of Emery Jensen Distribution, LLC. This new distribution arm runs under Ace Wholesale Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corporation, and is committed to serving non-Ace Hardware autonomous retailers.