Intentional Growth

#274: From 0 to 13 Ace Hardware Stores and an ESOP: How Gina Schaefer has been Enjoying Work, Making an Impact and Creating Wealth by Being Intentional

#274: From 0 to 13 Ace Hardware Stores and an ESOP: How Gina Schaefer has been Enjoying Work, Making an Impact and Creating Wealth by Being Intentional
Intentional Growth
#274: From 0 to 13 Ace Hardware Stores and an ESOP: How Gina Schaefer has been Enjoying Work, Making an Impact and Creating Wealth by Being Intentional
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Gina Schaefer is a passionate entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of 14 Co-op Ace Hardware stores located in Washington DC and the Baltimore area. Gina founded her business after noticing that there was a shortage of hardware stores in the lower income, urban neighborhoods of DC.

After 18 years of growing her business to 13 stores and employing over 250 people she decided to sell her ownership to her employees via an ESOP. Gina was a brand new entrepreneur when she opened her first store- formerly in SaaS - when she started in her early 30s. This is a great story of someone who saw opportunity in a low income place and created a mission to change the lives of people through “a few cool hardware stores.”

 

What You Will Learn

  • Why Gina went left tech for Ace Hardware retail stores
  • How Gina found a need in her community and leveraged it to create her hardware empire
  • The difference between a co-op and a franchise
  • How and why Gina made a mental shift from working in the business to working on the business - and what that means to her
  • How Gina realized her core values - and specifically trust - were crucial when expanding and hiring
  • Why hiring recovering addicts became part of Gina’s hiring and growth strategy
  • How Gina’s hiring model can increase retention within a company
  • Why trust is so important when scaling and what you can do to get past those barriers
  • How realized she needed to start thinking about exiting her business and why the thought was surprising
  • The power Gina gained when she started to understand valuations and more specifically the value of her business
  • The reason Gina chose an ESOP compared to Private Equity or another Strategic Buyer
  • How an ESOP helped Gina keep her company’s values and vision in place
  • Why transitioning your role and exiting your ownership are two totally different things

 

Bio:

Gina is a retailer, entrepreneur, public speaker and employee advocate based out of Washington D.C. In just 18 years she has started, grew and partially sold her 14 Ace Hardware stores to an ESOP where her employees can create wealth and enjoy work. Gina is three months away from completing her book, “Recovery Hardware” When Gina has time to relax she writes greeting cards because she believes in the power of a hand written note.

 

Quotes:

07:33 - “We hear this in various parts of our lives, right? ‘I wish somebody would do this,’ and ‘I wish somebody would do that.’ And one day I just said, ‘Why can’t that somebody be me?’” - Gina Schaefer

10:11 - “At its foundation, a purchasing co-op is a collective purchasing tool for independent retailers. It gives Ace the opportunity to go to… Milwaukee, for example, or Black and Decker or DAP and negotiates on behalf of all the Ace retailers.” - Gina Schaefer

35:21 - “We had the ability to take that money, use it to open a new store, and pay ourselves back in future stock money.” - Gina Schaefer  

39:11 - “People are afraid to talk about [how much their businesses are worth].” - Gina Schaefer

41:31 - “She was bouncing off the walls! She was so excited to give us a tour. Partially because she was so excited to tell us that she was an owner of that damn brewery and they were an ESOP.” - Gina Schaefer

43:48 - “No one opens an independent business with enough phone lines to handle a pandemic.” - Gina Schaefer

47:04 - “That made us even more aligned with the idea of an ESOP because we felt like, if anything was going to help make a difference in incoming equality, social inequality, all of this crap that–as a country–we can’t seem to figure out, the ESOP was an answer” - Gina Schaefer

 

Links and Resources:

Medium Interview

Premiere Speakers

Blog

Linkedin

AceHardwareDC

Mastering Your Cash Flow Digital Course

ARKONA Boot Camp

 

Reach out to me if you have questions about the boot camp!


Brought to you by Ryan Tansom of Intentional Growth