Gina Schaefer wowed me from the first time we met, when I interviewed her for the cover of my business magazine, http://www.BeInkandescent.com. Not only is she smart, savvy, and incredibly successful, I was particularly taken by how she cares for her employees – especially those who need a second chance. Her work with nonprofit organizations, such as Jubilee Jobs and ThinkLocalFirstDC are evidence of her determination to make a difference in the communities where her nine Ace Hardware stores are located. Equally impressive is the fact that this strong woman is making strides in a male-dominated business – which is why we tapped her to be one of the first women profiled in our 2014 Truly Amazing Women TV series. Gina’s leadership skills, can-do attitude, and success as an entrepreneur make her a powerful role model for everyone hoping to make a difference, and build a sustainable business.
We were recently honored by John Venhuizen’s participation in our spring conference. Our organizations share many commonalities including our cooperative structure, being retail driven and our “David vs. Goliath” challenges. John’s keynote exhibited the passion and “Servant Heart” he and his team share in supporting Independents. Further, John captured the hearts and minds of our audience with the right mix of humor and impactful information. We deeply appreciated John’s powerful message and Ace’s example of success.
The survey results are in, and John Venhuizen is the highest rated speaker in the history of our PGA TOUR annual meetings! The unique ability that John has to combine humor, storytelling and humility into a presentation on Service Excellence is one that captured the attention of all in attendance. He seamlessly weaved the Ace Hardware concepts of Head, Heart and Hands into his session which hit home to all of our attendees. John spoke to the group in such a way that everyone felt they were having a one-on-one conversation with one of the most dynamic leaders they had ever had the chance to meet. Congratulations and many thanks for providing such a tremendous message on service and relationships to our team at the PGA TOUR.
Your passion for customer service and developing employees was not only evident, but infectious. Your very relevant examples illustrated the how and why of paying attention to the details and left everyone with a renewed focus on going home and putting these principles into practice immediately. As a group of small business owners, your message certainly hit home and you instantly established credibility with your background of small business ownership.
I personally appreciate you sharing your blueprint for how local family businesses can continue to grow and thrive in a world of big box consolidation. As you know it is a passion we both share.
Lou is the “real thing” when it comes to passionately living customer service excellence and shares that message with clarity and humor. As a small business owner, he appreciates the practical side of customer service and every theoretical concept he presents is brought to a level of reality.
We will definitely invite him back to our future conferences as a keynote.
Ace Hardware’s outstanding reputation for service makes them the gold standard for independent retailing. When looking for companies that fit into a Business Session program on service culture, Ace was the obvious choice – and Tom Knox the perfect speaker. Tom’s presentation on Ace’s long-term strategy for amazing customer service was captivating, insightful, and just the inspiration our IGA independent retailers needed. We couldn’t have asked for a better fit.
Art Freedman has brought a new way of thinking to our retailers in Ireland. The education Art has brought to our conferences from his “real world” experiences and his passionate presentation works very well in our country. Art’s energy has a way of not only inspiring the participants but also mobilizing them to ACT when they return to their business. When it comes to Customer Service, no one in the world I know of can present this message in a way that everyone can understand. When the participants leave, they have the confidence and knowledge, along with the inspiration to execute what they have learned
The choice to ask Gina Schaefer to deliver the key note address at the 2015 Langenfeld Annual Meeting was a huge motivational success. Gina’s street level knowledge of the consumer, associate motivational needs and general business acumen made every theme she delivered something we could all relate to in our business. A simple focused presentation coupled with Gina’s embracing delivery style was met with a well-deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of the address.
“Six years ago our company was growing rapidly, yet struggling to be profitable. On the recommendation of a number of our peers, we began working with Art Freedman. Art delivered immediate results by revamping our retail pricing and rounding, which drove gross margin and our bottom line up significantly. Since then, Art’s role with Costello’s has expanded greatly and he has been instrumental in our growth and success.
A talented leader and engaging speaker, Art has spent countless hours inspiring our team of associates, managers, executives, and future leaders. He has driven results in:
1. Customer Service. Through numerous training initiatives including the implementation of
Ace’s Helpful 101
2. Marketing. By promoting creativity in branding, events, and procuring vendor funds
3. Staff development. Through many self-authored presentations on store operations and leadership including Costello’s Business Academy, an introductory leadership program given to newly hired and promoted members of management in our company.
Costello’s store count has grown by 60% in this short period; Art has been integral in positioning our company for this current and continued growth. Art has done this by creating a culture of teamwork, trust and excellence. He has added value to store operations, development & training, marketing, finance, category management, retail pricing, corporate structure – virtually every aspect of our business.
Art Freedman’s talent and passion are felt everywhere in our company from board room to sales floor.