Lowe's Companies, Inc. is an American company that operates a chain of retail home improvement and appliance stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Founded in 1946 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the chain has 1,840 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Expansion into Canada began in 2007 with the opening of a store in Hamilton, Ontario in early 2008. Lowe's started the construction of two stores in the Mexican city of Monterrey officially entering the Mexican market. In 2011, Lowe's released plans to build over 150 stores in Australia (as Masters Home Improvement) over the next five years, hoping to compete with the A$46 billion industry. Lowe's Companies, Inc. is ranked #50 on the Fortune 500 list. As of 2010, the chain is based in Mooresville, North Carolina. Lowe's is the second-largest hardware chain in the United States behind The Home Depot and ahead of Menards. Globally, Lowe's is also the second-largest hardware chain, again behind The Home Depot but ahead of the European stores B&Q and OBI.