Finance People

Menard Rises on List of World’s Billionaires

Eau Claire man’s wealth has grown by 44% in two years, Forbes says

Tom Giffey, photos by Branden Nall |

BIG WEALTH, BIG GIFT. John Menard and his wife, Faye,
BIG WEALTH, BIG GIFT. John Menard and his wife, Faye, cut the ribbon at the YMCA's Menard Tennis Center in 2018. They donated $10 million to build the center.

The past couple of years have been pretty good for John Menard’s net worth, according to the wealth watchers at Forbes magazine. On its just-published World’s Billionaires List, Forbes placed the home improvement chain founder at No. 104 among the wealthiest people on the planet. That’s not Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos money, but it does put the 82-year-old Eau Claire billionaire in elite company: With an estimated net worth of $16.6 billion, that’s just a bit richer than notable investor/corporate raider Carl Icahn ($16.5 billion) and brothers Hank and Doug Meijer ($16.5 billion), who control the Meijer supermarket chain.

He’s also richer than the likes of Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who is valued at $16.4 billion; brokerage chairman Charles Schwab ($12.2 billion); and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar ($11.3 billion).

The magazine ranks Menard as the 39th richest person in the United States and the wealthiest in Wisconsin. No. 1 in the nation and the world is Elon Musk, who is worth an astonishing $219 billion.

The number of billionaires has actually declined in the past year, Forbes says, and war, the pandemic, and weak markets are likely to blame. However, Menard is among the 40% of billionaires who have gotten richer in the past year. As recently as 2020, Forbes estimated Menard’s fortune at $11.5 billion, meaning it has grown by 44% in the past two years. He was ranked 145th on last year’s list, and 110th in 2020.

According to the magazine, the more than 300 Menards stores nationwide had $11.8 billion in revenue last year.

How can we get our heads around Menard’s massive wealth? Here’s a little context:

  • UW-Eau Claire’s annual budget is about $221 million. Menard’s wealth could cover that amount 75 times over.
  • The City of Eau Claire’s annual budget is $141 million. Menard’s fortune could pay that amount 117 times.
  • If you converted $16.6 billion into dollar bills, and then laid them end to end, they’d extend more than 1.6 million miles — nearly seven times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
  • On a more earthly scale, that many dollar bills would completely cover about 66 square miles. That’s enough to paper the entire land area of the City of Eau Claire almost two times over.
  • If you divided Menard’s wealth among Eau Claire’s 69,421 residents, each person would get about $239,121.
  • And if John Menard spent his entire fortune at a Menards store and received an 11% rebate, he would get a check for a cool $1.826 billion.