Beloit’s Ken Hendricks, who went from high-school dropout to a net worth of $2.6 billion, is Inc.’s national “Entrepreneur of the Year.” Hendricks is featured in a cover story in the magazine’s December issue.

Hendricks is CEO and chairman of American Builders & Contractors Supply Co., better known as ABC Supply. He spoke in June at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee, where he accepted the third annual “Seize the Day” award from the Wisconsin Technology Council and the Wisconsin Innovation Network.

After growing up in the roofing and siding business, Hendricks understood the need for quality wholesale distribution for contractors. In 1982, Hendricks and his wife, Diane, overcame financial adversity and skepticism about their business plan to launch ABC Supply. The company has grown from its original three centers to 345 locations in 48 states, with sales of $3.1 billion and about 6,000 employees.

As Inc. reported, “The ABC Supply story is so American dreamy it sounds made for the inspirational-speaker circuit.” Although Forbes magazine ranks Hendricks 107th on its list of the 400 richest Americans, Hendricks prides himself on staying close to his working-class roots, on helping other entrepreneurs, and on bringing jobs to Beloit.

Hendricks attributes most of his success to his humble beginnings as a roofer, which reinforced the blue-collar work ethic instilled in him by his parents. ABC Supply is known today for its family atmosphere, its excellent customer relations, and for giving back to the community.

The “Seize the Day” award honors entrepreneurial leaders who have been crucial to the development of the state’s economy. The “Seize the Day” award is not given for technical innovation but for innovative leadership – the ability to take hold of business opportunities and transform them into successes. In addition to Hendricks, past winners are Don Weber of Logistics Health Inc., La Crosse, and Bob Cervenka of Phillips Plastics, Phillips.

Nominations for the 2007 Seize the Day award, to be announced in June, may be e-mailed to Andrea Johnson at