Premiere Speakers Bureau, Gina Schaefer

Gina Schaefer

Developing urban markets, supporting small businesses and helping women to succeed

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Washington, DC

Gina Schaefer

Schaefer is founder and CEO of a chain of Ace Hardware stores located in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, and Alexandria, VA. She is a passionate entrepreneur who grew her company from one to 12 stores in only 14 years and now leads a multimillion-dollar business that employs more than 270 people. As a former member of the Ace Hardware Corporation Board of Directors, she is dedicated to maintaining a strong corporate culture and just published her first book, “Recovery Hardware”, that chronicles the stories of her teammates in recovery who have taught her how to be the leader she is today. 

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.

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

When her busy schedule allows, Schaefer likes to relax by making greeting cards (she's a big believer in the power of the written note), kayaking, taking spin classes, traveling, reading and, of course, mentoring other small business owners.

Gina Schaefer
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Second Chances
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The Return to Main Street
Shop Local

Nicknamed “Chief Localist” Gina has worked tirelessly in her hometown of Washington, DC to spotlight urban growth and how that translates to the rebirth of Main Street USA. American migration back into urban centers has opened up countless opportunities to serve the city dweller. Gina and her team have put a spin on the traditional field of hardware to create 12 mini-DIY oases in DC and Baltimore. Gina also shares both her team members and her own stories about success and second chances.

Audience member takeaways include:

1. Ways to connect with a local customer base
2. Methods for determining where to plant business roots
3. How and where to look for inspiration

Audiences: entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate executives, boards, franchises, co-ops, and more.

Recovery Hardware

The world needs more businesses to give second chances. With over 300 employees from all walks of life, Gina loves to share her favorite business inspirations with her audiences and highlight how, with these inspirations, her team has created a culture of second chances in her hardware company. Interwoven with stories about combating big competitors like chain stores and on-line retailers, Gina shares how a strong company culture and calculated community involvement can help an underdog succeed.

Audience member takeaways include:

1. Looking for inspiration around the globe
2. Creating a culture of inclusivity
3. How to have fun in retail when the competition for customers and employees is tough

Audiences: business owners, entrepreneurs, cooperatives, non-profit organizations, franchisors, and franchisees.

Women in Non-Traditional Careers

Gina’s message resonates strongly with a female audience defying the odds or seeking entrepreneurial endeavors. She believes strongly that all fields are “male and female fields” and has helped lead the way in the hardware world for more women in leadership and ownership roles.

Audience member takeaways include:

1. Finding your inspiration and voice
2. Learning how, when and WHY to self-promote
3. Balancing what you do know with what you DON’T

Gina caters this message to female audiences as well as any audience trying to engage female entrepreneurs, women business owners, a more diverse customer or employee base, and more.

Sm(ALL) Business Succession Planning

Gina Schaefer has spent years studying, observing, and participating in succession planning activities that ultimately led to the sale of her own business in a well thought out and successful exit strategy.    


As a board member on two multi-billion dollar companies, Gina had a front row seat to CEO and executive succession plans that taught her valuable transition lessons that she shares with her audience.   


In this energetic 45-minute keynote presentation, Gina will walk you through the steps needed to craft your own succession plan, regardless of the size of your business. Whether you are part of a small family-owned enterprise or a large national one, the critical steps are the same for all businesses.  

Audiences will: 

  • Learn how to draft a succession plan that fits their own financial goals  
  • Discover how proper planning will help eliminate the emotional complications that succession planning can create 
  • Hear about succession and exit options – from liquidation to private equity to a sale to your employees 
  • Begin to document the timeline they need to make their own succession a success 
  • Hear Gina’s transition story including the costs, pitfalls, and triumphs 

Gina Schaefer
Featured Book

Recovery Hardware: A Nuts and Bolts Story About Building a Business, Restoring a Community, and Renovating Lives

by Gina Schaefer

Gina Schaefer
Featured Reviews

At the Intersection of Root Beer and Christmas Trees

Sometimes all a business owner needs to do is stop and listen to what their customers are saying - to try the unusual or recognize they may not have all the answers. In 2009...
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Recovery Hardware

The 2021 National Recovery Month theme, “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community,” reminds people in recovery and those who support them that no...
Read More

Throwback Thursday: A Grand Opening to Remember

Sometimes the unconventional store openings are the ones that are most memorable.     Over the years we have operated 14 locations. Four of them were...
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