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Hammer Time

A franchisee trades a career in software for a career in hardware.

This story appears in the October 2006 issue of Start Up.

In 2004, Andrew Carlson was on his way up the corporate ladder, but he gave it all up for the good of his family. He was in marketing at software giant PeopleSoft, and when the company was taken over by Oracle, he was offered a higher position. The promotion would be excellent for his career but meant an intense schedule with little time for his wife and two sons. Andrew's wife, Michelle, feared the strain it would put on the family and requested he quit. "It was a hard decision," admits Andrew, who declined the offer and left his job in January 2005. "I was walking away from something I had put a lot of time and effort into."

After an extensive search, the Carlsons found a way to combine their work and family lives. Impressed by experiences as Ace Hardware customers, they began planning the launch of their own Ace Hardware in Denver. Unlike a typical franchise model, Ace Hardware has no royalty or franchise fees. It follows a non-traditional, retailer-owned cooperative business model where any profit the business earns goes back to the store owners as a patronage dividend.

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