Employee Ownership Webinar

Employee Ownership: A Business Succession and Retention Strategy

May 12, 11 am – 12 pm CT

The need to identify strategies for retaining businesses as baby boomers retire is more urgent than ever. Conversion to employee ownership is gaining traction as an effective method for retaining businesses, jobs, and wealth in local communities. Join us for a webinar featuring representatives from employee owned businesses who will share their personal experiences with the business conversion process and the benefits and challenges of employee ownership.

people working in a factory


Headshot of Marty Ruddy

Marty Ruddy

Company Manager, Project Developer, Employee Owner – President / Founder, Terra Firma Building and Remodeling

Marty is the founding owner of Terra Firma Building and Remodeling, a construction firm located in St. Paul, Minnesota. After being the sole owner of the business for 13 years, Marty began exploring the possibility of selling the business to his employees by converting it to a worker-owned cooperative. Terra Firma completed the transition to employee ownership in 2013 and now has 31 employees, 18 of whom are worker owners. Marty emphasizes that maintaining the quality of our relationships is one of our most important jobs at Terra Firma and in our personal life. Our priority is on our relationship with our work, with our friends and families, with homeowners and clients, with architects and designers, and with co-workers and subcontractors. We are focused on building strong relationships within our community, relationships based on respect, integrity, honesty and transparency. We are committed to creating a place where we can all do our best work. Being an employee owned company puts us in a position to be a strong and healthy organization driven by our commitment to long term relationships and long term success.

Gina Schaefer headshot

Gina Schaefer

Founder and CEO, A Few Cool Hardware Stores

Schaefer is the founder and CEO of 13 hardware stores in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, and the surrounding areas.  As a member of the Ace Hardware Cooperative, Gina leads a multimillion-dollar business that employs more than 250 people.  She is dedicated to maintaining a strong corporate culture and has begun a transfer of ownership through an ESOP to her teammates.

Schaefer’s big passion is for developing urban markets, supporting small businesses and helping women to succeed in all aspects of the hardware industry. She has tirelessly focused on the “Return to Main Street” movement in her own city of Washington, D.C., to promote Shop Local campaigns and community revitalization in urban areas.

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.

Schaefer has received numerous accolades for her many accomplishments, including: recipient of the Women Who Mean Business award from the Washington Business Journal of 2009, recognized as an industry Top Gun in 2011 by the National Retail Hardware Association, honored by Profiles in Diversity Journal as one of its Women Worth Watching in 2013 and recognized by Hardware and Building Supply Dealer as one of 14 of the 2016 “People of the Year.” In 2020 she received a Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply award.

Who Should Attend?

  • community and economic development providers,
  • business owners or employees interested in learning about employee ownership,
  • small business development centers chambers of commerce,
  • local and regional policy makers, and/or advisors to business owners.
Co-op developers at CooperationWorks! Training