Gina Schaefer makes leadership ‘Cool’
Washington D.C. Ace dealer Gina Schaefer shares strong views on second chances, and making differences.
A recent “Ace Heartware Stories” video presents Gina Schaefer in her element. In the video, she talks about her team, her community, and her 13-store chain’s policy of giving people second chances. The video is a moving tribute to the power of independent businesses to change communities for the better, and it has more than 112,000 views on Youtube.
Schaefer, a member of the 2020 class of HBSDealer’s Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply and owner of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, shared more inspirational thoughts on her approach to the hardware business during a recent leadership talk with fellow Ace dealers. Here are some highlights.
Her college days and early community service:
“Once a month the [Wittenberg University] football coach would invite me into the science auditorium to give a presentation to the football team about why they have to do their community service. Most of the guys didn’t care. They were really nice guys, but they wanted to be on the field. And here I was, 5-foot-2, in this huge auditorium with enormous men, and I’m telling them why they need to come with me to a soup kitchen or to an elementary school.
“Some of them who I’m still friends with laugh about those memories of me being so bossy. And I also have a lot of fond memories of seeing them grow into their skills as role models.”
Her first job:
“Waiting tables, I think, teaches you a lot about retail. It’s about taking care of customers and taking care of teammates.”
Her least favorite job
“It was the job right before I opened Logan Hardware in 1998, in the tech industry. The CEO had $5 million from investors, all from New Zealand. I had to get in touch with all of these absolutely wonderful Kiwis and explain to them that all of their money was gone. That was my least favorite job.”