Delafield landowner among Forbes' 400 richest
Diane Hendricks wealthier than Donald Trump

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Oct. 19, 2017

Streets of Delafield are lined with Colonial-style buildings built in the 1990s and early 2000s by developer Bob Lang and now owned by Hendricks Commercial Properties. Company CEO Diane Hendricks is rated by Forbes as one of the wealthiest self-made female business owners in the country.
Kelly Smith/Special to The Freeman

DELAFIELD - Downtown Delafield's largest property owner is among the 400 richest Americans, according to Forbes Magazine.

Diane Hendricks, owner of Hendricks Commercial Properties and co-founder of ABC Supply Company, is the 122nd richest person in America, according to the magazine.

In a series of transactions in 2015 and 2016, Hendricks Commercial Properties acquired 15 downtown buildings, most of them iconic Colonial-style structures built by developer Bob Lang that became the city's signature.

ABC Supply of Beloit, according to Forbes, is one of the largest whole distributors of roofing, siding and windows in America. It maintains a branch location in Hartland at 550 S. Industrial Park Drive, near the Hwy 83/Hwy 16 interchange.

Hendricks, 70, has a net worth of $4.9 billion, compared to $3.8 billion in 2016, which moved her up from 150th in the Forbes rankings.

According to Forbes, she is wealthier than President Donald Trump, whose net worth fell by $600 million to 3.1 billion, dropping him from 156th in 2016 to 248th in 2017.

Earlier this year, Forbes recognized Hendricks as the second richest self-made woman in America. In 2016, she was ranked as the richest self-made woman by Forbes.

Forbes rankings are based on federal regulatory documents, court records, and reports of ownership of public and private companies as well as real estate holdings and ownership of valuable antiques, jewelry and other collectables.

John Menard Jr., owner of the Eau Claire-based Menards home improvement chain, was the wealthiest ($9.9 billion) of nine Wisconsin business owners on the list.

The others included Herbert Kohler of Kohler Company ($8.5 billion), James Cargill II of Cargill food and agricultural company ($4.2 billion), four members of the Johnson Family of SC Johnson (each $3.8 billion) and Judy Faulkner of the medical record systems company Epic Systems in Verona ($3.4 billion).

Hendricks founded Hendricks Commercial Properties in 1974. In 1982, she and her husband Ken established ABC Supply Company.

He died in 2007 from injuries suffered during a fall in the garage at their home in Afton, a Rock County community located between Janesville and Beloit.

In June of 2015, Hendricks Commercial Properties purchased the 38-room, 12,000 square-foot Delafield Hotel out of receivership for a reported $2.5 million.

The hotel was built as one of four warehouses to store the Lang Company inventory of greeting cards, calendars, stationary and specialty gifts that were popular in the 1990s in retail stores across the country.

The warehouses were among the nearly dozen Colonial style two- and three-story commercial buildings Lang built in the 1990s and early 2000s during the peak of the card company's popularity.

Acquisitions and sales

After Lang sold the card company in 2003, he and one of his top assistants, Rob Gerbitz, began remodeling the warehouse into a high-end boutique hotel that Lang later sold to a Michigan investor.

Gerbitz later became president and CEO of Hendricks Commercial Properties. In May of 2016, that company purchased from the Steinergroup of Cudahy more of the Lang-developed properties.

Lang, financially strapped and heavily invested in building the Erin Hills Golf Course, the site of the 2017 U.S. Open, sold the buildings to Steinergroup in 2007.

In November of 2016, Hendricks Commercial Properties purchased the Lang-built 711 Wells Street office building from Villard Company in Brookfield, bringing to 15 the number of buildings in downtown Delafield owned by the Beloit-based commercial real estate company.