Diane Hendricks’ Journey to Becoming the Richest Self-Made Woman in America

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A look into how ABC Supply co-founder Diane Hendricks built her empire to become America's richest self-made woman
A look into how ABC Supply co-founder Diane Hendricks built her empire to become America's richest self-made woman

Stories of people building success from nothing are rare in real life, but Diane Hendricks is one of the extraordinary figures that stems directly from fiction.

In early June, Diane Hendricks continued her five-year streak from the top of Forbes’ list of America’s richest self-made women as president of ABC Supply, a construction materials company she developed alongside her late husband in 1982.

Here we shed some light on how she has built such a successful career.

Growing up

While other people grew up on the legacy of their political, business or celebrity parents, Hendricks’ success stems from her work ethic and determination to survive.

Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, she helped develop a work ethic that ultimately paid off when she and her late husband built their business empire in 1982. During her childhood, Diane Hendricks was exposed 24/7 to her parents’ farm work, which gave her a sense of discipline.

At the age of 17, she became pregnant and completed senior year while she lived at home. Four years later, Hendricks filed for divorce from her high school sweetheart.

While most single parents take on a variety of jobs, Hendricks focused on success in a single career by taking on various odd office jobs.

Finally, she pursued a real estate license. 

“Motherhood got in the way real quick and I grew up real fast,” she revealed.

“It didn’t stop me from wanting to reach my dream. In fact, I think I became more focused on what I wanted to achieve.”

Diane Hendricks shed some light on her dream, sharing that she hopes to move to the office in costume in the city.

ABC Supply

Life took her in a different direction when she met roofer Ken Hendricks in the 1970s, and the two were eventually married.

As a couple, they combined their talents to found ABC Supply in Beloit, Wisconsin. Diane and Ken’s partnership proved fruitful when the company opened 100 locations in 1994, but their success only increased when it hit $1 billion in annual sales four years later.

Managing the company

Ken Hendricks passed away in 2007, and Diane Hendricks leads ABC Supply to date.

Under her leadership, the company expanded to over 840 locations and became the 23rd largest privately held company in the United States.

ABC Supply’s website also revealed that it acquired the businesses of 18 other companies in half a decade, proving to be an industrial behemoth with its market dominance.

Disputes

Although successful in her endeavors, Hendricks endured a myriad of controversies. The first came in 2016 when she topped the Forbes list.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel accused her of not paying a penny in income tax between 2012 and 2014. However, it was also reported that she no longer owed any state taxes in 2010.

However, ABC Supply’s tax manager, Scott Bianchi, made it clear that the company changed its tax classification from C-corp to S-corp during those years.

Wisconsin state law states corporations can apply for federal S-Corps and state-level C-Corps, allowing ABC Supply to elect out-of-state tax option status, including checks made by the company to Hendricks only if all federal taxes are paid at the stop. 

Today

Diane Hendricks continues to operate out of Beloit, with a population of less than 37,000.

Forbes reports that she has spent millions on local projects, rebuilding abandoned properties and bringing new businesses to the state.

Five years ago, Hendricks also founded a local career center that runs workshops and teaches students skills like coding and building. Her goal with the program was to introduce teenagers to “the value of the job.”


Opinions expressed by Market Daily contributors are their own.

Lilian Swift

Lilian is currently taking her masters in accountancy and currently works as a public accountant in New York.

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