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New Ownership, Same Great Service, Same Great Team
Owners: Tim & Julie Kenney
Story & Photography: Kat Rico

In 2014, Tim and Julie Kenney purchased Clay’s Ace Hardware, a mainstay of south Fort Collins since the original owners, Jim and Lisa Clay, started the store in 1998. Tim and Julie felt the entrepreneurial call, but did not necessarily want to start their own business, so they began looking for businesses to purchase. Their focus rested on a brand that was recognizable, and an existing business that had a culture built around service to the customers and community. They learned that Tim and Lisa Clay were considering selling their store located on Harmony Road in Fort Collins, however the Clays cared deeply about their employees and customers and only wanted to sell to someone with the same values. Tim appreciated this and said, “It’s the idea that people are coming to our store for more than an item.” 

Tim began investigating the Ace Hardware franchise model and discovered it was a cooperative, meaning each store is locally owned, but they still have a national organization with one vote per store. The franchise is particular about the owners it selects, and he went through the process, discovering the support the model offered along the way. Outside of the support from the franchise, Tim made his way in to the SBDC for consulting on the purchase process. The purchase took about a year to complete.
A key recommendation from one of the SBDC consultants was that he simply work in the business for the first few months of the transition. “We were focused on continuing the path of success of the previous owners and made no changes for the first six months,” said Tim. The store is classified a supercenter based on sheer size, with 17,000 square feet of retail space and a team of 31 people. There are approximately 13 full time employees, and the core group of employees have been with the store between 5 to 13 years. By heeding this advice, the Kenney’s were able to make the ownership transition and maintained 100% employee retention. “It’s the same great service with the same great team,” Tim says proudly.
The store remains deeply rooted in the community and regularly hosts fundraisers in it parking lots for local high school clubs, sports teams and others. They strive to maintain a welcoming attitude and create a fun environment with these events, an element other stores struggle to emulate. There are over a dozen events each year at the store.

Tim is excited for the future of the store and the possibilities of expansion. As he has come to understand the history and culture of the store, he has faced challenges, but with the support of the Ace franchise and SBDC consultants the ownership transition has been a success. 

Franchise Expo West Bringing Business Opportunities to Colorado

By Jim Mastandrea of MFV Expositions

Many have considered starting their own businesses. Yet, fear of the financial risk and going at it alone keep most from making that happen.

What many fail to consider is becoming a franchise owner. With franchising, people have a built-in support system, a company behind them, a proven brand, financial help, training and more. When people start their own company alone, they usually make mistakes, but as a franchisee, the company keeps you from those mistakes.

The success of the franchise business model is backed up by impressive statistics too.
• According to the International Franchise Association, in 2016 franchises count for more than 801,000 establishments representing 2.3% of all businesses in the U.S.
• Franchised businesses provided more than 90.1 million jobs in 2016 – a greater number of jobs than all manufacturers of durable goods, such as computers, cars, trucks, planes, communications equipment, primary metals, wood products, and instruments.
• Colorado boasts more than 16,000 franchised establishments, with more than 171,000 jobs in the state being a result of franchised businesses (10.7% of Colorado jobs).
Denver will soon be the epicenter of franchise opportunities as thousands of entrepreneurs gather for Franchise Expo West at the Colorado Convention Center Thursday, Oct. 6 through Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. Potential business owners will have the rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with executives from more than 200 franchise brands at nearly every investment level in a multitude of industries.

Follow these three tips to make your time at Franchise Expo West a success:
1. Look and learn. Look into the hottest trends in the franchise industry – ranging from restaurants and fitness clubs to auto repairs and pet supply stores – as attendees explore the vast, emerging, international, and mature franchise opportunities ranging from as little as a $10,000 investment up to $1 million+. You can already start checking out which companies are exhibiting and make a list of those that interest you.

Take advantage of the more than 60 free seminars, five in-depth workshops, and three specialty seminars being held throughout the three-day event. These educational opportunities, most of them free, will help you make the right decisions during your franchise research.

2. Ask questions.
It’s important to meet and ask questions of the company executives, so go with the intention of speaking to, and not just looking at, the franchisors. View this as an interview, not merely a chance to stock up on free pens and stress balls. Have a short list of questions that you will ask each prospect. Some questions worth considering may include: the initial investment and on-going payments required; the amount of support and training provided new franchisees and then ongoing; range of product or service offerings; locations that are available; current franchisees’ earnings; how many franchisees are in business five years after opening; what’s the biggest reason for a franchise success and failure.

3. Review requirements. After the festival, take the time to review your notes and the literature that you collected. It’s probable that you will have eliminated a few of your original prospects, confirmed your interest in several others, and added a few new companies into the mix. As soon as possible after the event, schedule follow-up meetings to learn more about those franchisors that are still in contention.

For the past four years, Franchise Expo West was held in Anaheim, Calif. Last year, more than 8,000 attendees from 35 states and 24 countries attended, and this year, even more are expected.

Franchise Expo West costs $10 to register in advance and $20 at the door, but those who register at and use promo code OPR can receive one complimentary pass to attend the show. On-site registration is also available, but pre-registration is recommended. 

About the Author: Jim Mastandrea is Group Show Director for MFV Expositions. Call him at 201-881-1626 or send him an email for additional information. Please visit for more information on franchise expos.

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10 Amazing Ways to Motivate Your Retail Sales Team

10 Amazing Ways to Motivate Your Retail Sales Team

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
4:00 – 6:00 pm
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)

It’s true. 30- 40% of most retailer’s sales are done during the Holiday season.
Are you ready?
Have you set the goals for your team?
Thought of contest ideas?
How do you engage your sales team to sell more?
What will set your store apart from your competition?

We will talk about these questions and more when we explore 10 amazing ways to motivate your retail sales team to have the best holiday ever. Be ready to engage with your fellow retailers in this interactive, fun session about how to make the holidays a very special, rewarding season for you, your team and your customers.

Our Presenter

Annette PedersenSummit View Retail Solutions 

After spending over 30 years in the specialty women’s and men’s apparel business, Annette Pedersen decided to take her passion for training and retail knowledge to independent retailers throughout the United States. As a regional vice president for a national women’s retailer she was responsible for up to 120 store locations and prided herself in building revenue and sales by focusing on the development of teams, providing training in leadership, merchandising/display, hiring/training, mastery of customer service, marketing and inventory management. Having graduated with a Masters in Organizational Leadership, she has much to teach and share with others. Additionally, she can relate firsthand with the struggles of independent retailers since she owns her own better women’s consignment boutique. Her retailing consulting firm, Summit View Retail Solutions, strives to build financial security for independent retailers by providing them the best expertise in the industry.

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