Starting a business comes with a tremendous amount of challenges, from coming up with the idea to growing the business itself. For Lara (Hardcastle) Maple (’90), these challenges were not the end of the road but an opportunity to channel her passion for business.
Maple started her journey working at AT&T for seven years on a fast-track program in marketing and sales. After retiring from AT&T, she became a full-time mom to her two children, a role she considered a priority and never a sacrifice. During this time, she and her husband, Clint (’90), began Grain Valley Dog Supply LLC, which has since grown into a multimillion-dollar pet distribution business. The two did not stop there and have since founded four other businesses: Maple Realty LLC, Maple Land and Cattle LLC, Lara Maple Properties LLC and Lara Maple Real Estate LLC. With two children and five businesses, they are never short of things to do, and their busy lifestyle has given them the opportunity to enjoy every moment.
“Business ownership allowed my husband and me the flexibility to remain involved in the kids’ activities and attend their events throughout the high school years,” Maple said. “It also afforded us the opportunity to be involved in our community and give back to the causes that are dear to us.”
While Clint focuses on Maple Realty and the land and cattle operation, Lara primarily focuses on the dog supply and real estate businesses. The success of their businesses comes from their hard work, time commitment and love for what they do. While dog supplies are not Lara’s passion, the business itself is.
“I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about new ways to motivate my team,” she said. “I get excited about ideas to streamline processes, and I’m utterly obsessed with how to make my customers’ experience phenomenal.”
Being a goal-oriented person, Maple enjoys a challenge not only in business but also athletics.
“While I work hours that most people think crazy, I try to find time to do something athletic every single day,” she said. “It might be going for a run, often fighting the sunset, doing a P90X workout at home or heading to the tennis court.”
Tennis serves as an outlet and the only time Maple fully separates herself from her work. She plays on a competitive women’s USTA tennis team, and in 2017, went all the way to win the national championship match.
In search of a personal challenge outside of work, Maple heeded a friend’s advice to participate in a sprint triathlon.
“I was looking for something to test me. Something that was completely out of my comfort zone,” she said.
Not letting anything deter her from achieving her goal, Maple added swimming and biking to her routine of workouts and began training. She achieved her goal of completing and placing in her division.
While her drive and determination are the key to her success, Maple credits her years at the University for helping prepare her, especially her accounting and marketing courses.
“I loved my time at Truman,” she said. “I had amazing professors who exposed me to areas of business that I had no idea I would need. Specifically, the accounting coursework at Truman has proven invaluable. Understanding your numbers and your financial statements is so critical for any business.”
Currently residing in Odessa Mo., Lara and Clint now have another reason to get back to Kirksville and reminisce about their time on campus. Their son, Alec, currently attends Truman. Not surprisingly, his major is business.
“The Truman experience will be something that all three of us will always share,” she said.