The Chicago Journal

Diane Hendricks: the Richest Self-Made Woman in America

Diane Hendricks is among the most exceptional women in America with her rags to riches story, something that usually only comes from stories.

In early June, Diane Hendricks continued her five-year streak of success, topping the Forbes list of America’s richest self-made women as president of ABC Supply, a building materials company she 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 depended on his work ethic and will to survive.

Growing up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, she developed a work ethic that ultimately paid off as she and her late husband built their business empire in 1982. As a child, Diane Hendricks was exposed to her parents’ 24-hour farm labor, which instilled a sense of discipline in her.

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

While most single parents work multiple jobs to make ends meet, Hendricks has focused on thriving in a single career by taking on 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 into the city and go to work in an office in a suit.

Marriage and 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 start ABC Supply as a couple in Beloit, Wisconsin. Diane and Ken’s partnership proved fruitful when the company opened 100 locations in 1994, but its success only increased when it achieved annual sales of $ 1 billion four years later.

Managing the business

Ken Hendricks passed away in 2007, and Diane Hendricks took over ABC Supply, operating the company 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 dominance of the market.


Despite being successful in her endeavors, Hendricks suffered some controversy. 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 director, Scott Bianchi, clarified that the company changed its tax classification from C-Corp to S-Corp during those years.

Wisconsin states that businesses could apply for a federal S-Corps and C-Corps at the state level, which allows ABC Supply to elect out-of-state tax option status, including checks that the Hendricks company issued only if all federal taxes were 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 hard work.”