ABC Supply co-founder Diane Hendricks believes family values, hard work and perseverance have helped her succeed as a business leader and entrepreneur.
“You can do anything you want,” Hendricks told more than 600 people who attended the Dare to Dream: Influential Women in Business Luncheon at Beloit’s Eclipse Center on Wednesday.
“Set an example and go to work,” she said. “You can be a mom and a wife, and you can be the strong women that we are in the industries that we choose to be involved in. I didn’t find excuses for not doing something. I look for solutions.”
Hendricks was the keynote speaker at the luncheon, which was sponsored by the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce and featured a surprise performance by country singer Lee Greenwood.
Hendricks co-founded ABC Supply with her late husband, Ken, and together they built the largest wholesale roofing distributor in the United States.
She now is chairwoman of Hendricks Holding, which manages an array of businesses and properties. Through the Hendricks Family Foundation, she helped create CareerTek, a Beloit youth career development and education program, in 2017.
ABC Supply has 850 stores, more than 15,000 employees and $11.6 billion in annual revenue, but Hendricks said she values her employees’ input and ideas above everything else.
“It’s the associates that made this company great and the leadership we have in place,” she said. “Everyone can be innovative and entrepreneurial. We as leaders have to listen to that spirit.”
Several women received awards.
Mary Fanning-Penny, CEO of United Way Blackhawk Region, received the Executive Influencer Award for her work with United Way, where she has served as president and chief executive since 2014. She has been part of the local United Way Board of Directors since 2008.
“Together, we are here to listen and learn and be inspired to dream big,” she said. “It’s important to root for and fight for the underdog. Naturally, I’ve parlayed these core values into my dream position.”
Anabel Toye, owner of Anabel’s Cleaning Service in Roscoe, Illinois, got the Role Model Award. She said being a role model means “doing what is right, being there for people when they need you and doing everything in your power to be the best version of yourself.”
The NextGen Award, which honors young professionals, was given to Sarah Millard, Beloit’s strategic communications director.