My company & title is… Along with my wife Cheryl, we are the owners of Karsten’s Ace Hardware with four valley locations including North 32nd St.
A typical day in my life includes… Hopefully, I start my day with a run, then on to work – touring one or more of our stores, meeting with the team, finding new and exciting products, serving our neighbors that shop the store, inventory management, strategic planning, merchandising, planning events, problem solving, IT system work. You know, all the typical work that a small business owner does each day.
My favorite thing about living/working in the North 32nd area is… My favorite thing is watching and being a part of the commercial and residential redevelopment along the North 32nd Street Corridor. I grew up in the neighborhood, riding my bike through Dreamy Draw, going to Shea Plaza for movies, eating ice cream at Thrifty Drug. Shadow Mountain Class of ’82. My high school job was working at the Shell gas station at 32nd Street and Shea – right across from where our store is today. There was no SR51, and 32nd Street was the major artery into downtown. The freeway was a welcome addition, however a real killer for businesses up and down 32nd Street. Today, it thrills me to see all the energy here once again and truly appreciate our neighbors supporting their local businesses!
My favorite movie I could never get tired of watching and why… Hunt for Red October. I don’t know, you’ll have to ask my wife. Every time that it shows up on the channel guide (which is constantly), I have to stop and watch as much of it as I can. Maybe it is the cat and mouse relationship that was formed between two people from two very different countries operating in two separate steel tubes submerged somewhere under the ocean surface – and that connection they made.
My family… Is amazing! I am blessed to have my wife as my business partner along with one of my sisters. Our “kids” have both worked in the business with us and are now pursuing their own paths. Our son Zach is finishing up his undergrad at ASU, hoping to land a job with the National Park Service – matching his love for the outdoors. Our daughter Hannah actually is working with us since she has graduated from ASU this past year and is getting ready to enter Physician Assistant school next Fall.
The business lesson I learned the hard way is… It is far easier to buy than to sell! As with any business, the goal is always to buy low and sell high. Entering into the transaction is easy whether you are buying inventory for the store, a stock investment or a house. Today you can simply press a button and poof – you own it! However, now the job becomes convincing others that they need what I have and are willing to pay for it. If I buy wrong and there is no demand, it could be a very costly mistake.
One thing I cannot live without… My garage! I hang out and tinker in there a lot. I decompress and do some of my best thinking and creative work there. It is great therapy.
When I was younger, I wanted to be… A pilot.
The one person who motivates me is… John Venhuizen, CEO of Ace Hardware Corporation. He is passionate, committed, inspirational, and knows his purpose. Check him out on YouTube – he’s great.
The last thing that made me laugh out loud was… I laugh a lot – mostly at myself. Don’t take yourself too seriously and you’ll always have a lot to chuckle about.
My first job was… Washing planes (and bathrooms) at Scottsdale Municipal Airport, followed soon after by that job at the Shell Gas Station where we actually pumped the gas for you.
I’m currently working on… My fall garden, planning a bedroom remodel into an office, definitely working on a car at some level, trying to build a better structure for our organization that will support growth for more stores, and at the 32nd Street store, we are building out the garden center at the back of the store by installing shade structures and bringing in vertical and container gardens!
The best gift I’ve ever received was… My wife and kids.
The actor I would want to play me in a movie of my life is… Jim Carrey – he’s a bit wacky, isn’t he?
My dream vacation would be to… Wander. No planned itinerary, no planned destinations – just start walking, riding, driving, flying and see what I can find.