Wisconsin Marathon: How did PRO come to be?
Jess Hoepner: I opened PRO 12 years ago on a whim. My husband, Trae, and I were both coaching at the high school level. I always dreamt of having my own bakery/coffee shop but couldn’t get Trae on board. One day on my way home from work, I thought of the idea of having a running store. I’m a dreamer and tend to come up with a lot of ideas … but this one got Trae excited too and we went for it. We took out a loan, borrowed against our retirement, worked two jobs and hit the ground running.
WM: How has the company grown over the years?
JH: We expanded in 2010 to Oconomowoc (recently moved to Delafield) and in 2013 Trae came on board full time and since then we’ve grown to four locations, 38 employees with 11 being full-time. Our staff is really amazing. We wouldn’t be here today without them and their passion to help others.
WM: What is your vision for the future of the Milwaukee running community?
JH: We really have a focus on community. Running can bring us together in a positive way and help create happiness during challenging times. We’re really fortunate to have so many groups to run with in the city and suburbs. I’d like to see the Milwaukee running community continue grow and have all of the different groups together and run as one.
WM: Why partner with the Wisconsin Marathon?
JH: We want to partner and help all races so that they can have the best experience for their runners. If we can add something special, help get the word out to more people, or just donate for a fundraising effort, then it makes us happy to know we can support a journey of health for our community.
WM: Have any of your employees run the race?
JH: We have a store race team that has had several runners complete the Wisconsin Marathon. The team consists of employees, elite runners and local ambassadors.
WM: Does PRO have special events coming up that our runners should know about?
JH: We have events happening monthly – the next big one is our Ugly Sweater Runwith Brooks on Saturday, Dec. 8 at our Brookfield location. We have a contest with different categories for Ugly Holiday Sweaters. Brooks Running brings demo shoes for the runners to try out. We also have a cookie contest and raffles in addition to pancakes, coffee, and hot cocoa following the fun run.
WM: How can one find out more about PRO’s offerings?