Education: BBA in international business, George Washington University; MBA, University of Denver

First Job: Sales Associate at Macy’s

What I'm Reading: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

My Philosophy: Expect the best, no excuses.


Amy Kaplanis 

Owner/Vice President

award winner

Growing up, had anyone told me that someday I would own a small-town hardware store in the Colorado mountains, I would have told them they were crazy. Funny how life works out.

I always knew I wanted to work in “Corporate America” for a Fortune 500 company. After earning my MBA, I did just that, becoming a consultant for a global firm. I found the consultant lifestyle to be fulfilling, yet challenging. The position offered exposure to new industries and people, learning opportunities, and worldwide travel.

Before long, I was married and we had our first child. Maternity leave taught me that while I loved being a mother, I would also need to keep working outside the home. But who would I trust with our child while I went back to work?

At the time, my parents had purchased Granby Ace Hardware, a full-service hardware store, two hours outside Denver. Graciously, my mother offered to watch our daughter if we moved to Granby.

We made the leap and relocated to Granby, while I continued my career remotely. But the tipping point came after 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. conference calls in the same day for clients in Hong Kong. My job had taken over my personal life—it was time for a change. I needed something more rewarding, and the family business was calling.

It was frightening to think about risking everything I had built for an industry I knew little about. Plus, I would be leaving a lucrative salary and valued peers.

On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Above all else, it takes hard work and passion to succeed as the owner of a small business. It also takes a willingness to step outside your own enterprise to gain ideas and resources that can help grow your business. My various board leadership positions have allowed me to surround myself with innovative ideas and a network of support.

On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
My father has always believed in me, encouraged me, and expected the best from me. He started with nothing and worked his way up to CFO of a Fortune 500 company. Even more impressive, he took the leap of faith to open a hardware store for the chance to create something of his own. As he approaches retirement, I’m thankful to have been able to work by his side for the last eight years.

On Facing Challenges
My biggest challenge was making the decision to leave corporate America and join the family business. There is a lot of security in a corporate job, but there is so much personal fulfillment to be had from building your own business.

Amy’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Be your own biggest cheerleader. Don’t be afraid to take credit for what you’ve done. And never give up; you can do anything you set your mind to.