Menards is an enormous, privately held home improvement chain owned by a union-hating Republican billionaire. They are now vying for the title of Most Extreme Corporate Overreaction to the 2016 election.
Election years sometimes make wealthy business owners go crazy. In 2012, the CEO of Westgate Resorts threatened to lay off his employees if Obama got reelected. (Those layoffs never materialized.) Now a new election season is upon us, and America is again seeking a rich Republican businessman to wildly overreact to our national politics.
Behold the news out of New Philadelphia, Ohio—a town that has been waiting for the planned construction of a new Menards store. Not so fast! Menards spokesperson Jessie O’Mara told the local paper yesterday that construction of the store will be delayed for “about a year,” due not to local business conditions or to corporate financial issues, but to something much larger: “We are a family owned business and with the Obama Administration scaring the dickens out of all family businesses in the U.S.A at present and with no certainty if the next administration will be any better,” O’Mara told the paper, “we have decided not to risk expansion until things are more settled.”
A bold and confusing stand for a multibillion-dollar company! The statement raises quite a few questions, as well: Will Menards only build this store if a Republican is elected? Or are they holding out for a specific candidate? There’s another relevant twist here, also: in 2013, Melania Trump, the wife of you-know-who, sued and then filed a $50 million arbitration suit against Menards owner John Menard after a deal that she had struck with one of his companies to produce a line of skin care products fell through. That dispute may have had something to do with this:
John Menard of Menards home improvement stores in Midwest treats employees horribly -- should they form a union? http://t.co/ETm9mxCash— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2013
So... would Menards be ready to start building again in the event of a Donald Trump presidency? Or might they prefer Ted Cruz? I called Jessie O’Mara yesterday to ask. She asked me to email her my questions, which I did. No word yet, but we’ll update this post if we get any clarity.
It is worth noting that just this week the NLRB said that Menards violated labor laws by forcing employees to agree to mandatory arbitration, and retaliating against union activity, after it was reported last December that the company had forced managers to sign contracts that severely docked their pay if employees organized a union. The company is mired in a period of bad PR, of its own making. The last thing Menards needs is to have the dickens scared out of it any further!