In an age of big-box home improvement centers (Home Depot, Lowes), Ace makes the case for the local hardware store. By sales it is the #1 hardware cooperative in the US, ahead of Do It Best. Ace dealer-owners operate more than 4,600 of Ace's 4,700 hardware stores, home centers, and lumber and building materials locations in all 50 US states and about 60 other countries. Stores range in size from small, urban shops to large rural locations. From about 15 warehouses Ace distributes such products as electrical and plumbing supplies, garden equipment, hand tools, housewares, and power tools. Ace was founded in 1924 by a group of Chicago hardware store owners. In 2012 Ace acquired its largest customer.