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Business owners work hard to make life easier for others

Peter Roufs and Amador Pacheco started Helping Hearts in-home care in June.

Peter Roufs had long dreamed of opening his own business. So when he lost his job earlier this year, he figured it was the perfect time to make that dream a reality. The only question he had to answer was, what kind of business did he want to open?

Roufs' first thought was a restaurant. Though he'd worked most recently as circulation manager for the StarTribune, he had more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant business. He liked the work and he was good at it, but the more research he did the clearer it became the cost of entry was higher than he could manage.

So, he kept looking. Roufs has a degree in social work, so when his sister suggested he consider in-home care, the idea stuck. Eventually he landed with Helping Hearts In-Home Care, a national chain that provides a range of services for seniors and others who need some help with transportation, lawn care or other chores around the house.

The connection made sense almost immediately.

"I've always loved people, and I like to talk," Roufs said. "What better than to be able to keep people in their homes?"

Helping Hearts isn't just for senior citizens. They'll help anyone who needs a hand with cleaning out garages or getting to and from appointments. Clients who have signed on with Roufs so far have ranged in age from 52 to 79. Helping Hearts serves clients all over the Twin Cities.

To help keep everything running smoothly Roufs brought in Amador Pacheco, his former co-worker at the StarTribune. Pacheco is a big believer in the opportunities that exist in the transportation side of the business. That wasn't an immediate focus for Roufs, but Pacheco doesn't see many other options for people to pay for a cheap ride wherever they need to go. Other transportation options such as DARTS have changed so riders don't get the kind of door-to-door service they once did.

"In Dakota County there's such a huge need for it," Pacheco said. "We're not rethinking the wheel here, but our overhead is so low we can undercut anybody in the market."

So far, the partnership has worked well.

"What's great about it is his skills are not my skills and my skills are not his skills," Roufs said.

Since June, Roufs and Pacheco have been making the rounds to area senior centers and other areas where they might find interested customers. They haven't yet hired any other employees, but they hope to add Pacheco's wife soon and branch out from there. All potential employees will go through background checks, and Roufs and Pacheco will drop in on them from time to time once they're on the job. They currently run the business from their homes.

Getting everything up and running has taken a lot of work, but so far Roufs is thrilled to be his own boss.

"I've never been happier, because what we're doing is we're helping people stay in their homes," Roufs said. "It always feels good when you feel you're making a difference in someone's life."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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