Building a Business Focused on Human Potential and Doing Good in Community

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This episode focuses on Gina’s amazing story of building a business focused on human potential and doing good in her community. 

Gina Schaefer is the founder and CEO of 12 hardware stores in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, and the surrounding areas. As a member of the Ace Hardware Cooperative, Gina leads a multimillion-dollar business that employs more than 260 people. She is dedicated to maintaining a strong corporate culture and has begun a transfer of ownership through an ESOP to her teammates. She is also the author of Recovery Hardware, A Nuts and Bolts Story About Building a Business, Restoring a Community, and Renovating Lives, which was published in September 2022.  

Schaefer draws her inspiration from fellow entrepreneurs who strive to be creative, think differently, and help make a difference. People like Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, from whom Schaefer learned innovative business strategies; Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, founders of gourmet food group Zingerman’s Community of Businesses in Michigan, who inspired her to use her voice as a force for good; and Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, who taught her that nonprofit organizations need to think beyond simple charity.

Schaefer has received numerous accolades for her many accomplishments, including: the recipient of the Women Who Mean Business award from the Washington Business Journal of 2009, recognized as an industry Top Gun in 2011 by the National Retail Hardware Association, honored by Profiles in Diversity Journal as one of its Women Worth Watching in 2013 and recognized by Hardware and Building Supply Dealer as one of 14 of the 2016 “People of the Year.” In 2020 she received a Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply award. 

She serves on the Corporate Board of CCA Global and the nonprofit board of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.  

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