Edward E. Lanctot, the entrepreneur who transformed a tiny hardware company into a nationwide chain of stores, died on Oct. 30 from complications of a stroke. He was 84.
Raised in Minnesota, Lanctot’s first job out of high school was working for hardware wholesaler John Cotter. After serving a four-year tour of duty with the Army during World War II, Lanctot moved to Chicago and helped Cotter build a small hardware company. They created a co-op of local mom-and-pop stores and transformed it into True Value Hardware.
Lanctot handled the company’s advertising, using celebrities like Harry Caray and Pat Summerall to promote the chain. When he retired in 1989, the company consisted of 7,000 stores.