Marc Bernstein’s Founders’ Forum

Marc Bernstein’s Founders’ Forum

Episode 29 | Gina Schaefer Download

00:27 Download November 8th, 2023

This week we welcome Gina Schaefer, the mastermind behind a flourishing empire of Ace Hardware stores. With the grit and tenacity of an underdog, Gina shares how she transcended the title of ‘tech reject’ to build a business spanning 13 locations, 300 teammates, and an impressive revenue of over $50 million. What’s more, she gives us a sneak peek into her unique company culture, her strategies to thrive amidst e-commerce giants, and the inspirational narrative of navigating the turbulent tides of business.Pulling back the curtain, Gina unveils her journey of transitioning from her CEO role and the creation of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), a model she deems a wealth generator and an equity bridge. She also touches on her company’s unexpected reputation as a Recovery Hardware store, affirming the power of community support for individuals in recovery. Wrapping up, Gina broaches why she chose ESOP for her empire and muses on why many private companies steer clear from it. Tune in for invaluable insights and moving stories. We promise it’s not one to miss!About Gina Schaefer:Gina Schaefer is the founder and former CEO of a chain of hardware stores as a part of the Ace Hardware Cooperative. With her team, she grew the business to 13 locations with 300 teammates and 50M in revenue. She is also the author of Recovery Hardware which chronicles their growth while hiring from the local recovery community.Connect with Gina:Website recoveryhardware.comLinkedIn episode is brought to you by Recovery Hardware, how a female-owned hardware business changed the path for people in recovery and helped transform a community.  Learn more at

Your Host, Marc Bernstein                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Marc Bernstein is an entrepreneur, author, and consultant. He helps high performing entrepreneurs and business owners create a vision for the future, accomplish their business and personal goals, financial and otherwise, and on helping them to see through on their intentions. Marc recently co-founded March, a forward-looking company with a unique approach to wealth management. He captured his philosophy in his #1 Amazon Bestseller, The Fiscal Therapy Solution 1.0. Marc is also the founder of the Forward Focus Forum, a suite of resources tailored specifically to educate and connect high performing entrepreneurs, and helping them realize their vision of true financial independence. Find out more about Marc and connect with him at                                 

Ang Onorato                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ang is a highly sought after human capital leader with expertise in multiple areas including conscious leadership development, executive search, business operations, and human behavioral assessment. With over 25 years of experience, she has worked with a range of clients including global Fortune 500 organizations, professional service firms, and entrepreneurs. Her background includes leading major divisions and lines of business in corporate environments, as well as being an entrepreneur herself.
Ang’s approach is uncommon in that she blends psychology, spirituality, and business in her work. With a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Social Sciences, she brings a deep understanding of human behavior to her coaching and consulting services. This allows her to guide corporate and entrepreneurial clients to develop the conscious leadership skills and mindset needed to succeed with their businesses, teams and stakeholders. Connect with Ang at

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