Dennis Company sold, employees and product lines won’t change

The venerable Dennis Company, a four-generation business with five stores in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, is being sold to Kansas-based Westlake Ace Hardware, officials from both companies said on Jan. 11.

Each of the Dennis Company’s five locations – Aberdeen, Elma, Long Beach, Montesano and Raymond – will retain the Dennis Company name, management, store employees and the same product selections. The five stores employ about 85 people.

Co-owners Brent and Randy Dennis agreed to sell the Dennis Company, which is headquartered and got its start in Raymond, to Westlake Ace Hardware earlier this year. The sale is effective March 26.

The Dennis Company is often lumped into the hardware category, but the stores carry home furnishings, sporting goods, work clothing, kitchen appliances, home and garden products and a wide variety of other items.

Westlake goes back to 1905, coincidentally the same year the Dennis Company got its start. Westlake and Dennis Company are both members of the Ace Hardware cooperative of hardware stores. Westlake is the largest Ace dealer in the country. With the acquisition of the Dennis Company, it will own 121 hardware stores in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Washington. It has been part of the Ace cooperative since 1959.

“We found a really strong company to take us over,” said Brent Dennis. “They are not an investment firm” but a company with a long history of service to their customers and communities. He said the companies have similar core values. “The Dennis Company is basically going to be run as it always has been.”

“Westlake is a growing and vibrant brand,” said Joe Jeffries, President and chief operating officer of Westlake Ace Hardware. “We are excited to welcome The Dennis Company into the Westlake family, expand our relationship within the communities they serve and continue their proud tradition of outstanding customer service.”

Brent Dennis said he and his brother Randy each have two children and for several years the company worked on a succession plan to turn it over to the fifth generation, but at a point it became apparent that the best option was to sell the business.

The two brothers will stay on for a few months during the transition and training.

Colleen Nissell, a current Dennis Company executive, will act in the capacity of a regional manager overseeing the five stores.

The Dennis Company has been part of the Ace cooperative since about 2002, but retained its individual branding. Going forward, Brent Dennis said, the Ace logo and will be more prevalent and the stores will take advantage of the Ace customer rewards program.

“Very few businesses make it to the fourth generation,” said Dennis. “Randy and I have worked together as partners very well. We have different strengths and weaknesses and we work together very well.”