If sticks and stones break bones, what can two-by-fours and two-inch nails do? Menard's wondering that now that its biggest rivals (#1 home improvement giant The Home Depot and #2 Lowe's) are busy hammering away at its home turf. One of the Midwest's largest home improvement chains, Menard boasts 270 stores in more than a dozen states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Stores sell floor coverings, hardware, millwork, paint, and tools. Unlike competitors, all the company's stores have full-service lumberyards. Menard is owned by president and CEO John Menard, who founded the company in 1972.
Although Menard outlets are typically smaller than those of competitor Home Depot, they offer a similar selection of products by building large warehouses adjacent to stores and then quickly restocking merchandise when it's sold. The company's products are laid out on easy-to-reach, supermarket-styled shelves and have outdoor, drive-through lumber yards. To help keep expenses and prices low, Menard's Midwest Manufacturing (MM) division makes some of its merchandise, including doors and trusses. MM operates about a half-dozen plants in five Midwestern states that make metal roofing and siding, doors, decking, trusses, and other building materials. In what may be a first for a home improvement chain, Menard has gotten into the business of residential real estate development with several large subdivisions either under construction or in the planning stages in Indiana and Illinois. The developments, situated on land near Menard stores, create a potential customer base among new homeowners and local builders.
The company is increasing its average store size to more than 220,000 sq. ft. throughout up to 40 stores. Its largest store ever -- 250,000 sq. ft. -- is located in Minnesota. Most of the company's new stores will be more than 200,000 sq. ft. Besides stocking hardware and building supplies, these new megastores will include garden centers and sell a large range of home appliances. Some stores even sell groceries.
The family-owned chain does not release earnings, but the home improvement sector has clearly suffered as a result of the economic downturn in the US and collapse of the housing market. Still the regional home improvement chain opened several new mega-stores and has gotten a sales boost from the do-it-yourself crowd.
In addition to billionaire founder John Menard, other family members are engaged in the chain's everyday operations. John Menard also owns Team Menard, an Indy car-racing team.
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