Hardware Retailing

MAY 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2018 172 Leading With Me I n March, A Few Cool Hardware Stores, headquartered in Washington D.C., celebrated its 15th anniversary. That amount of time may seem short compared to retail operations that have been around for generations. But during those years, owners Gina Schaefer and Marc Friedman have grown the business from one location to 12 with more than 280 employees. Today, the husband-wife duo shows no signs of slowing down. For Schaefer and Friedman, fast growth has required a style of leadership that isn't afraid to let go of some control. Their business consists of convenience-style hardware stores scattered throughout urban Washington, D.C., neighborhoods. Each store is custom-made to meet the unique needs of its local community. Each is run by a store manager empowered to make decisions about what is best for that location. While letting go of some control may seem frightening to some business owners, Schaefer believes it's been essential to the growth of her business. It's also one of the marks of a strong leader. Growing and managing a successful, multilocation operation takes a lot of hard work and strong leadership, not only from yourself but also from those around you. While Schaefer and her husband have been developing staff to help run their stores, she has distinguished herself both locally and nationally for her insights on leadership. She has served on the board of directors for a variety of organizations, including her co-op, Ace Hardware, and several nonprofit organizations. Currently, she is on the board of the multibillion dollar company CCA Global, a co-op whose holdings include the Carpet One Floor & Home chain of stores. She has presented on the topics of customer service and leadership to companies across the country. In the community, she is a vocal advocate of buying local and urban growth. In 2011, the North American Retail Hardware Association named her one of its Top Guns, an award given to best-in-class retailer operators. On the following pages, you can look deeper into Schaefer's perspective on what she feels every retailer needs to know to be an effective leader. And since an important part of her work has revolved around teaching others to lead, two of her team members will share how they've developed their own leadership styles. By Jesse Carleton, jcarleton@nrha.org What Retailing Has Taught Gina Schaefer About Leadership

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