Menards® started from an idea. Early in 1958, there was an obvious need for economical agricultural buildings. The farm industry was being revolutionized by more mechanized and convenient dairy systems, which created a demand for low-cost housing of stock and machinery.
As a means to finance his education, John Menard, Jr., the founder of the company, decided to make his dream a reality. Picking up some building knowledge in the summer of 1958, John worked days on his first pole buildings and nights at a local movie theater while contracting other buildings to keep his crew working.
By the summer of 1959, several buildings had been erected in the Eau Claire area and the Menard name was gaining a reputation. This early success prompted the purchase of the first major piece of equipment: a 1946 Chevrolet truck. This truck and an old Ford tractor were the only pieces of equipment used throughout 1959. Due to the increasing demand for Menard pole buildings, it became necessary to purchase more equipment and put on additional crews. Advertising literature was circulated throughout the state. The demand grew to such proportions that when John graduated from college and could devote all of his time to the business, Menards® was formed with John Menard, Jr. as president and major stockholder. It was at this time that the first land was purchased and a small office and shop were erected on the Eau Claire site.
Prospective pole building customers often inquired about purchasing lumber and building materials. Realizing the consumer need for a building materials outlet, Menards® began to sell materials to the public on a cash-and-carry basis. This was the very beginning of Menard Cashway Lumber.
In 1969, the Manufacturing and Warehousing functions were added to the company, beginning with the Truss Plant. Since then, more plants have been added for treated lumber, prehung doors, board, steel, nail packaging, concrete, and extrusion.
The sale of the Menard Building Division in 1994 ended nearly three and a half decades of pole barn construction and paved the way for even greater expansion in retail home improvement centers.
Today, Menards® is recognized as the retail home center leader of the Midwest with stores in thirteen states.
The giant Distribution Center located in Eau Claire served all the stores until 1998, when a second Distribution Center opened in Plano, IL. We have now added facilities in Holiday City, OH and Shelby, IA as well. These facilities have enabled the company to develop into one of the largest retail organizations in the industry.