Credo: Gwen Kaplan 

Gwen Kaplan, a third-generation business owner, is a champion of small business and entrepreneurship. She’s been recognized with a slew of federal, state and local awards for helping promote business, is a past president of The City’s Small Business Commission and serves on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce board.

Who has had a big influence on you in your life?
My grandmother, Vi Ward, was the first woman in real estate in Oklahoma, where I was born and raised. The most important things to her were family and business. She taught me to like business and to like business people. When I was awarded Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, having my grandmother in the audience applauding was a major milestone in my life.

Is there a golden rule by which you live?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Where do you find inspiration?
My family, friends, employees, clients, students and of course living and working in my favorite city in the world, San Francisco.

What book or piece of writing has had a large impact on you?  
Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements:”
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.  
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

Where or to whom or to what do you turn in dark times?
My husband and soul mate, Steve Kaplan, or as we call him, “Mighty Kap.”  

Describe the work that you do.
Ace Mailing acts as a megaphone for people’s messages. From nonprofits to Fortune 500, from the smallest of small businesses to the giants of technology, we provide on-demand, full-service solutions to our clients in the areas of direct mail, e-mail, marketing communications, database management and information acquisition.  

What’s one of the biggest challenges facing the mailing industry?
The speed of business increases every single day. The continual upgrading of technology can be cost-intensive.  Every business must change and evolve; it’s the cost of doing business. Staying on the cutting edge is what has kept Ace in the game for 33 years.

Do you think the USPS is going to be extinct at some point with the popularity of e-mail and e-mail newsletters?
I teach direct marketing at UC Berkeley, and at each class I say that every business or nonprofit must have an integrated direct marketing plan for its market segments. The marketing plan includes postal mail, e-mail and a strong online presence. Strategic marketing plans must consider print ads, public relations, telemarketing, mobile marketing and social media. The question becomes what combination of media communicates your brand to your market.

I see that you’ve won several awards. Is there one that you’re particularly proud of and why?
Ace just received the 2010 Green Business of the Year Award from the Small Business Network for being a green pioneer and a green business. We are thrilled. I am most proud of Ace’s distinction of being a third-generation San Francisco business with Steve and Miles and Matt. This is a badge of honor that opens doors the world over. If you can do it HERE – you really CAN do it anywhere!

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