Portland News

Diane Hendricks: the Richest Self-Made Woman in America

An overview on ABC Supply chairwoman Diane Hendricks
An overview on ABC Supply chairwoman Diane Hendricks

In reality, stories of people building success out of nothing are hard to come by, but Diane Hendricks is one of those extraordinary characters straight out of fiction.

In early June, Diane Hendricks continued her five-year streak of success by topping the Forbes list of America’s richest self-made women as president of ABC Supply, a construction materials company she co-founded with her late husband in 1982.

Here, we look at how she built such a successful career.

Growing up

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

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

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

While most single parents take on multiple jobs to make ends meet, Hendricks focused on succeeding in a single career by taking various odd office jobs. Eventually, 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 city office in costume.

ABC Supply

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

They combined their talents to found ABC Supply in Beloit, Wisconsin, as a couple. 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.

Running the business

Ken Hendricks passed away in 2007, and Diane Hendricks took the helm at ABC Supply up to this day.

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, which turned out to be an industrial giant with its market dominance.


Although he was successful in her endeavors, Hendricks endured a few 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, clarified that the company changed its tax classification from C-Corp to S-Corp during those years.

Wisconsin State businesses can apply for federal S-Corps and C-Corps at the state level, which allows ABC Supply to elect out-of-state tax option status, including checks issued by the company to Hendricks only if all federal taxes have been paid.


Diane Hendricks continues to operate from 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. His goal with the program was to teach teenagers “the value of the job.”

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.