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From student employee to CIO: Menards chief information officer Adam Duquaine

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: Adam Duquaine is a 2001 management information systems graduate. He recently visited UW-Eau Claire to talk with faculty and staff from the College of Business and tour the many improvements to the lower campus.

When Adam Duquaine began working at the Menards distribution center as a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student in 1999, it was simply a steady summer job that paid well and could possibly continue to accommodate his student schedule in the fall.

It seems that the match worked well for both parties.

After 22 years with the company, in late spring of 2021 Duquaine was named chief information officer of the Menards Corp., a $10.7 billion home-improvement chain with more than 300 store locations in 14 states.

Dr. Brewer Doran, dean of the College of Business at UW-Eau Claire, is pleased to congratulate Duquaine and looks forward to this opportunity to grow the connections between campus and the Eau Claire-based corporation.

"We are proud to see our alumnus succeed in such impressive fashion," Doran says. "The College of Business is equally proud that Adam has agreed to work with our information systems faculty to strengthen our relationship with Menards and provide access for faculty and staff to some of Menards' outstanding IS resources."

A long-term commitment to innovation and leadership

“Throughout my time at UWEC I continued working in receiving and also picked up a part-time computer operator position on the weekends,” says Duquaine, who majored in management information systems. “After graduating in 2001, I became a software developer working on touch screen ‘Design-It’ applications for store kiosks.”

As the world of high tech began to increasingly drive the retail industry, Duquaine helped usher Menards information systems (IS) departments through iterations of Java and website development, eventually being promoted through several tiers of IS management.

“I focused on learning all the various aspects of the business and on finding innovative ways for IS to contribute to Menards’ continued growth,” he says.

In his role as CIO, Duquaine oversees the planning, organizing, implementation and execution of all IS functions at Menards. He ensures that all IS operations meet company standards, and directs the maintenance of all existing systems and the development of new ones.

“My main focus for our IS team is to deliver business value quickly and efficiently through collaboration and technology while continuing to drive an IS culture that can create, scale and transform as fast as our retail, manufacturing and logistics needs demand.”

Taking over as CIO amid a pandemic posed challenges, but Duquaine was confident in the systems already in place, fully capable of handling both the increases in e-commerce demand and issues of cybersecurity.

“We had already implemented a lot of the system functionality to ensure safe shopping options at Menards, though the sudden volume increase certainly shocked the systems,” he says. “Our teams pulled together and made sure everything ran efficiently and that Menards was always ready to help our communities.”  

With both his work and family lives deeply rooted in Eau Claire, Duquaine calls this community home. Originally from Door County, however, Duquaine admits that he never saw himself remaining in Eau Claire after completing his degree. He credits a perfect first date during his junior year at UW-Eau Claire in ultimately leading him to that first job at Menards.

“I had a fantastic blind date and met my future wife,” he says. “That date led me to stay in the area for the summer and I ended up taking the job in receiving at Menards. Once we got married and started a family, I never considered leaving the area. I’m certainly glad I stayed and that I have played a role in the growth of Menards over the last 20-plus years.”