Lowcountry Ace Hardware Store

The Definitive Guide to Who Owns Ace Hardware

The Definitive Guide to Who Owns Ace Hardware

Quick Ownership Facts:
Ownership: Owned by independent store owners.
Structure: Operates as a cooperative.
CEO: John Venhuizen.

Have you ever wandered into an Ace Hardware store and wondered, “Who actually owns this place?” It’s a good question, especially given Ace Hardware’s unique place in the heart of communities around the United States, including those near Lowcountry Ace Hardware in Charleston, SC.

Ace Hardware is not your typical hardware store chain. Unlike big-box competitors, Ace stores are part of a cooperative of independent owners. This means each store is locally owned, offering a personalized shopping experience that’s tailored to the community it serves. The cooperative structure allows store owners to benefit from economies of scale by purchasing inventory together, without sacrificing their independence.

With John Venhuizen at the helm as CEO, Ace Hardware continues to thrive by focusing on what they do best: providing quality service, expert advice, and a wide variety of products to homeowners and DIY enthusiasts. Venhuizen’s leadership has helped Ace maintain its competitive edge in a rapidly changing retail landscape.

Infographic showing the Ace Hardware Cooperative model, highlighting independent ownership, community involvement, and the role of CEO John Venhuizen - who owns ace hardware infographic pillar-5-steps

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into the intricacies of Ace Hardware’s ownership, the cooperative model it uses, and the franchise system that allows it to maintain a global presence while keeping local communities at the heart of each store.

Understanding Ace Hardware’s Business Model

Ace Hardware operates under a unique business model, which can be a bit complex but is really about bringing together the best of both worlds: cooperative and franchise/cooperative structures, along with independent ownership. Let’s break down these components to make it clearer.


At the core, Ace Hardware is a cooperative. This means that the stores are not just clients buying from a supplier; they are part of a member-owned entity. Think of it as a club where each member has a say and benefits from the collective’s success. This model allows for bulk purchasing, which leads to lower costs for each store. Stores then pass these savings on to customers.


Some people get confused and think Ace Hardware operates like a traditional franchise, but it’s more accurate to say it’s a franchise/cooperative hybrid. Stores carry the Ace Hardware brand and benefit from the cooperative’s marketing, purchasing power, and brand recognition. However, each store owner also retains a great deal of independence, allowing them to cater to the local community’s specific needs and preferences.

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Independent Ownership

This is where the local touch comes in. Ace Hardware stores are independently owned and operated. This means that when you walk into an Ace Hardware store, you’re not just a customer of a global chain; you’re supporting local business owners. These owners are your neighbors, employing local staff, and often tailoring their product offerings to what their community needs.

Retailers and local entrepreneurs are the backbone of Ace Hardware. They invest in their stores, hire and train their teams, and most importantly, they make decisions on how to best serve their customers. This model fosters a strong sense of community and ensures that each Ace Hardware store is a place where you can find not only the tools and supplies you need but also friendly, knowledgeable advice.

Ace Hardware Store Front - who owns ace hardware

In summary, Ace Hardware’s business model is a blend of cooperative buying power and independent local business ownership. This structure offers the best of both worlds: the competitive pricing and wide product selection you’d expect from a large retailer, combined with the personalized service and community focus of a neighborhood store.

We, at Lowcountry Ace, embody this model fully. We’re not just a store; we’re part of our community here in Charleston, offering quality products, expert advice, and a friendly shopping experience to our neighbors. Whether you’re tackling a home improvement project, nurturing a garden, or just looking for the right tool for the job, we’re here to help.

In the next section, we’ll explore the rich history and evolution of Ace Hardware, from its founding in 1924 by a small group of Chicago-area hardware store owners to its position today as a global leader in the hardware industry. Stay tuned to learn how this remarkable journey shapes the way we operate and serve you at Lowcountry Ace.

The History and Evolution of Ace Hardware

In 1924, a group of visionary entrepreneurs from Chicago came together with a groundbreaking idea. They realized that by banding together, they could achieve more favorable purchasing terms and pass those savings onto their customers. This simple but concept marked the birth of Ace Hardware.

1924 Founding: The Beginnings

It all started when Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Lindquist, Frank Burke, and Oscar Fisher decided to unite their individual hardware stores under one name, inspired by the “ace” fighter pilots of World War I. Their aim? To overcome the odds just like their namesakes. This coalition allowed them to buy in bulk, saving money and ensuring the lowest possible prices for their customers.

Retailer-owned Cooperative: A Unique Business Model

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By 1928, the company was incorporated as “Ace Stores Inc.,” and a year later, it opened its first warehouse. This was not just a business; it was a cooperative where the store owners were the stakeholders. This model was pivotal, as it meant that each store owner was not just a franchisee but a part of a larger, supportive network.

Global Expansion: Beyond Borders

What began as a small chain in Chicago has grown exponentially. Today, Ace Hardware boasts more than 4,600 stores across 50 states in the U.S. and extends its reach to over 70 countries worldwide. This growth is a testament to the company’s commitment to quality, customer service, and community support.

Ace Hardware’s journey from a small group of Chicago retailers to a global powerhouse is a story of innovation, community, and resilience. It’s a narrative that we at Lowcountry Ace are proud to be a part of. Our store embodies the spirit and values that have driven Ace Hardware’s success over the past 95 years. We’re more than just a hardware store; we’re a part of a global family committed to serving our local community.

This history and evolution not only highlight how Ace Hardware has grown but also underscore the cooperative model’s effectiveness. It’s a model that empowers local entrepreneurs, supports communities, and fosters global connections. As we continue to serve you at Lowcountry Ace, we carry forward this legacy of excellence, community service, and innovation.

Who Really Owns Ace Hardware?

Retailers, Local entrepreneurs, Community impact

Ace Hardware stands out as a unique entity in the retail world. Unlike a typical corporate chain, the real power and ownership of Ace Hardware lie in the hands of local retailers and entrepreneurs. These individuals form the backbone of every Ace Hardware store you visit.


Each Ace Hardware store is independently owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. This means when you walk into an Ace Hardware store, you’re not just entering a franchise; you’re stepping into a business owned by someone who lives in your community. They make the decisions, from the products on the shelves to the services offered.

Local Entrepreneurs

The essence of Ace Hardware’s ownership model is deeply rooted in local entrepreneurship. Owners are members of the community, invested not just in their business but in the well-being and growth of the area itself. This personal stake translates into a higher level of service and a commitment to offering products that meet the community’s needs.

Community Impact

The impact of this ownership model extends far beyond the store walls. By owning an Ace Hardware store, local entrepreneurs contribute significantly to the local economy, create jobs, and often lead community service projects. Our ownership model ensures that when a store succeeds, it’s not just a win for the owner but for the entire community.

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In essence, who owns Ace Hardware? It’s owned by individuals who are deeply invested in providing their neighbors with quality products and exceptional service. It’s a network of local business owners who understand the unique needs of their communities and strive to meet them every day.

At Lowcountry Ace, we’re proud to be part of this model. We’re more than just a hardware store; we’re your neighbors, committed to serving you and contributing to our community’s growth and well-being.

Key Figures in Ace Hardware’s Success

In the story of Ace Hardware’s impressive journey, certain names stand out for their pivotal roles in shaping the company into the successful cooperative it is today. Let’s dive into the key figures who have been instrumental in Ace Hardware’s success.

John Venhuizen

As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ace Hardware Corporation, John Venhuizen has played a critical role in steering the company through both calm and turbulent waters. With over 29 years of experience at Ace, Venhuizen has a deep understanding of the company’s core values and operational strategies. His leadership has been marked by a focus on nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of store owners and emphasizing unparalleled customer service. Under his guidance, Ace has seen significant growth, expanding its global presence and solidifying its reputation as a leader in the hardware retail sector.

The Melnicks

The Melnick family embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that is at the heart of Ace Hardware’s success. Jeremy Melnick and his father, Les, own six Ace Hardware stores in the Chicago area, continuing a legacy that began when Jeremy’s grandfather opened his first store in 1950. Despite the competitive pressures from larger chains, the Melnicks have thrived by leveraging their deep knowledge of the local market and providing specialized and attentive customer service. Their success story is a testament to the power of the Ace cooperative model, where independent owners can leverage the strength of the brand while maintaining their unique identity and community focus.

Founding Members

The foundation of Ace Hardware was laid in 1924 by a small group of Chicago hardware store owners. Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Linquist, Frank Burke, Oscar Fisher, and William Stauber came together with a idea: to pool their resources to achieve better pricing from suppliers, increasing their competitiveness against larger stores. This innovative approach led to the creation of a retailer-owned cooperative model that has become the cornerstone of Ace Hardware’s enduring success. Their vision has allowed thousands of independent store owners to thrive by combining the buying power of a large corporation with the local expertise and personalized service of small businesses.

CEO Leadership

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Leadership at Ace Hardware, particularly under CEOs like John Venhuizen, has consistently prioritized the needs and success of individual store owners. This approach has fostered a culture of mutual support, innovation, and customer-centric service that sets Ace apart in the hardware retail industry. The leadership’s commitment to maintaining the cooperative’s values while adapting to changing market dynamics has ensured Ace Hardware’s position as a beloved and respected brand worldwide.

At Lowcountry Ace, we draw inspiration from these key figures. Their dedication, vision, and leadership remind us daily of the importance of community, the value of hard work, and the power of cooperation. As part of the Ace Hardware family, we’re proud to carry forward the legacy of service and success that has been the hallmark of Ace Hardware for nearly a century.

Ace Hardware’s Market Presence and Competitive Edge

Ace Hardware stands as a giant in the hardware industry, with a global presence that is both impressive and influential. With over 5,000 stores worldwide, our reach extends far beyond the local neighborhoods we serve—it spans across more than 60 countries. This extensive network is not just a testament to our size; it’s a reflection of our commitment to providing personalized, knowledgeable service on a global scale.

Global Footprint

Our stores are a mix of sizes and shapes, designed to meet the specific needs of each community we serve. This flexibility allows us to be a local favorite in diverse markets around the world, from small urban areas to large rural communities. Our international retail partners help us maintain this global footprint, ensuring that Ace Hardware’s quality products and services are available no matter where you are.

Customer Satisfaction

At the heart of Ace Hardware’s success is our unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. We believe that a visit to Ace isn’t just about making a purchase—it’s about having a pleasant, helpful experience. Our motto, “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks,” isn’t just a slogan; it’s a promise to our customers. We strive to make every interaction helpful and positive, ensuring that our customers leave our stores with not just what they came for, but also with a smile.

Localized Service

One of our key competitive advantages is our ability to provide localized service. Each Ace Hardware store is tailored to the needs and preferences of the community it serves. From offering specific products that are in high demand in the area to providing niche services that cater to local interests, our stores are deeply integrated into their communities. This local approach enables us to offer a level of service and expertise that big-box competitors simply cannot match.

The Power of the Cooperative

Unlike traditional retail models, Ace Hardware operates as a cooperative. This means that each store is independently owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. These owners are not just business operators; they are members of the community, with a genuine interest in seeing their neighborhoods thrive. This model allows us to be nimble, responsive, and deeply connected to the communities we serve, giving us a significant edge over our competitors.

In conclusion, Ace Hardware’s market presence and competitive edge are built on a foundation of global reach, customer satisfaction, localized service, and the unique cooperative model. As part of the Ace Hardware family, we at Lowcountry Ace are proud to embody these values, offering our customers not just products, but also a partnership they can count on. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast, a professional contractor, or someone tackling a home improvement project for the first time, you’ll find that our doors are always open, ready to offer the help and advice you need.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ace Hardware

Does Ace Hardware Have a Parent Company?

No, Ace Hardware does not have a traditional parent company. Instead, it operates under a cooperative business model. This means that the stores are independently owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. These owners come together to form a cooperative, allowing them to benefit from collective purchasing power, branding, and marketing, while still maintaining their independence. This unique structure is what sets Ace Hardware apart, giving each store the flexibility to meet the specific needs of its local community.

Are Ace Hardware and True Value Owned by the Same Company?

No, Ace Hardware and True Value are not owned by the same company. Although they share similarities in their retail cooperative model, they are separate entities. Both Ace Hardware and True Value operate as retail cooperatives, meaning they are owned and run by independent store owners. These owners operate under the respective banners but maintain their autonomy, allowing them to cater to their local markets effectively. This independent ownership model is key to the personalized service and community focus that both brands are known for.

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Who is the CEO of Ace Hardware?

John Venhuizen is the current President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ace Hardware Corporation. Under his leadership, Ace has continued to grow and thrive, emphasizing the cooperative’s commitment to supporting local entrepreneurs and providing exceptional customer service. Venhuizen’s approach to leadership and company growth is deeply rooted in the belief that the success of Ace Hardware comes from empowering local owners and focusing on the needs of the communities they serve. His tenure has been marked by significant achievements, including expanding the global footprint of Ace Hardware stores and consistently improving customer satisfaction.

By operating as a cooperative and empowering local entrepreneurs, Ace Hardware has created a strong and responsive network of stores that are able to meet the needs of homeowners and DIY enthusiasts everywhere. At Lowcountry Ace, we’re proud to be part of this community-focused network, offering our customers not just products, but also a partnership they can count on. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast, a professional contractor, or someone tackling a home improvement project for the first time, you’ll find that our doors are always open, ready to offer the help and advice you need.


Community focus, Independent ownership, Global brand

As we wrap up this definitive guide to who owns Ace Hardware, it’s clear that the heart of Ace Hardware lies within its community focus, independent ownership, and global brand presence. Unlike many retail chains, Ace Hardware thrives on a unique model that champions local entrepreneurship while maintaining a strong, unified brand identity across the globe.

At the core of Ace Hardware’s success are the local entrepreneurs who own and operate the majority of Ace stores. These individuals are not just business owners; they are part of the fabric of their communities, offering personalized service and expert advice that can’t be found in larger, impersonal stores. This local ownership ensures that each Ace Hardware store is uniquely tailored to meet the needs of its community, providing a shopping experience that is both personal and highly relevant.

Furthermore, Ace Hardware’s global brand strength is a testament to its commitment to quality, service, and innovation. With over 5,000 stores in more than 60 countries, Ace has become a trusted name in home improvement, gardening, and DIY projects around the world. This global presence, combined with a deep understanding of local markets, allows Ace to deliver unparalleled value to its customers, wherever they may be.

Importantly, the cooperative business model of Ace Hardware is what sets it apart from the competition. This model not only supports the independent ownership of stores but also fosters a spirit of collaboration and mutual success among all Ace retailers. By pooling resources, knowledge, and buying power, Ace stores can compete effectively in the retail market, ensuring that customers always have access to the best products at competitive prices.

In conclusion, Ace Hardware stands out in the retail world for its unique blend of local ownership, community engagement, and global brand strength. For us at Lowcountry Ace, our commitment to serving our community, providing expert advice, and offering quality products remains unwavering. As part of the Ace family, we are proud to continue this tradition, ensuring that our customers always have a neighborly place to turn to for their home improvement needs. Ace Hardware is more than just a store; it’s a community partner, a resource for all your DIY projects, and a global brand that you can trust.

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Lowcountry Ace Hardware: Your one-stop shop for home improvement. We offer quality products from trusted brands and expert advice from our experienced staff. Located on James Island, visit us for tools, hardware, fishing gear, power tools, building materials, grills & smokers, electrical and plumbing supplies, and more.


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