Cold Stone Creamery franchise owner in Sonoma County wins North Bay Influential Women Awards
Trudy Grabenauer is a 2022 winner of North Bay Business Journal’s Influential Women Awards. Here’s her story.
I started as a registered dietitian with the Army Medical Specialist Corp, leaving the service as a captain. When we relocated to California and I was a new mom, I worked from home as a medical transcriptionist and Lamaze Childbirth instructor.
We moved to Sonoma County and I reentered the workforce as the director of dietetic services at Sonoma County’s Community Hospital, a position I held for eight years.
I left county employment to start a microfilm/record storage business.
After 10 years, I sold the business, traveled, and ended up starting a Cold Stone Creamery empire. I opened the first two franchises in Montgomery Village and Petaluma. I then added locations in Windsor, Rohnert Park, Cotati and another location in Santa Rosa. I have started to downsize, looking forward to retirement and currently only own the Santa Rosa location.
What is a personal achievement you are most proud of and why?
I turned a lifelong interest in ostriches into a somewhat thriving ranch in our backyard in Rincon Valley.
When we moved to a rural residential area, I talked my husband into getting a young ostrich chick to raise. Ostriches are social birds so it was only a matter of time before we got her a companion. There were thoughts at the time that the ostrich meat industry would be a good investment and there would be a demand for unrelated pairs of ostrich chicks.
One thing led to another and we became proud owners of two unrelated breeding pairs of ostriches. In a couple of years, eggs were laid, an incubator and hatcher moved into the garage, the barn became the nursery, the tool shed became the young chick habitat, the garden was for the teenagers and the entire front yard was the adolescent hangout.
For awhile, the market was indeed strong for unrelated pairs of baby ostriches, but eventually demand died off. The novelty of owning an ostrich farm also waned.
I am extremely proud that we were able to successfully run a farming operation and learned an incredible amount about incubation, hatching and raising ostriches.
What were the biggest obstacles you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
My career has been extremely varied and I would occasionally find myself lacking any knowledge or experience to handle certain situations or problems.
I learned quickly not to be afraid to ask for help, advice, and encouragement. I owe a great deal of gratitude to countless individuals who have stepped in to help me.