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Billionaire Ken Hendricks dies after fall from roof

Hendricks

Ken Hendricks, a roofing company billionaire, died Thursday after falling through his roof.
The 66-year-old founder, chairman and CEO of Beloit-based ABC Supply fell through his roof while checking on construction Thursday about 10 p.m., according to Rock County Sheriff’s Department officials.
Troy Knudson with the Rock County Sheriff’s Department said the department received a call from Hendricks’ wife, Diane, at 10:18 p.m. reporting that her husband was unconscious.
“We were told that she had tried using CPR to resuscitate him,” he said. “Our team continued CPR efforts before the emergency response team from the Beloit hospital arrived.”
Hendricks was taken to Beloit Memorial Hospital and then later transferred to Rockford Memorial Hospital in Winnebago County, Illinois, according to the Sheriff’s Department. He was pronounced dead there at 4:48 a.m.
A Friday press release from ABC Supply said Hendricks suffered a massive head injury as a result of the fall and died in surgery.
Knudson said the department’s preliminary investigation found that Hendricks and his wife had recently returned to their Rock Township home, where construction work was being done above the garage. Hendricks, according to the investigation, was checking on some of the work that had been done when he fell through the ceiling.
Knudson could not say how far Hendricks fell.
The death was determined to be accidental, so Knudson said the investigation is closed unless new evidence comes to light.
Winnebago County coroner Sue Fiduccia said an autopsy was planned for Friday.
ABC Supply does about $3 billion in business a year. Hendricks had a net worth of $3.5 billion in September, according to Forbes magazine. That made him the country’s 91st richest person, according to the magazine’s ranking of American billionaires.
In Wisconsin, he was the third richest. But he seemed unfazed by his wealth.
“It doesn’t make any difference to me,” Hendricks said in an interview with Inc.com in September 2006. “I can’t spend it. I’d have to sell the company, and I’ll sell the company over my dead body.”
Hendricks, the son of a Janesville roofer, worked side-by-side with his father growing up. A high school dropout, he started his own roofing business at age 21, according to his biography on ABC Supply’s Web site.
Tired of having to deal with multiple suppliers scattered around the country, he and his wife, Diane, started a national supply distribution chain in 1982.
The company celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, with 5,800 employees in 350 locations nationwide.
“This is an enormous tragedy and a great loss to the family, associates and the community,” ABC Supply said in a statement.
Hendricks, according to an ABC release, owned all or controlling interest in and held active board and management positions with a diverse list of companies, including American Aluminum Extrusion Company LLC, American Purpac Technologies LLC, Amfinity Capital LLC, Corporate Contractors Inc., Hendricks Development Group, Hendricks Holding Co. Inc., ACM Gutter Operations, American Slate Co., Charleston Metal Works, Gem Pharmaceuticals LLC, Henry Technologies Inc., Humane Manufacturing LLC, Kingnut International LLC, Gateway Insurance Co. Inc., American Patriot Insurance Agency Inc. and Southeastern Iowa Port Terminal LLC. Hendricks is survived by his wife, Diane Hendricks, their seven children and their children’s families.
The Daily Reporter’s Sean Ryan and the Associated Press
contributed to this report.

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