Feature Friday – Smith Jewelers

Founder, Marion J. Smith

Smith Jewelers in Leesville, Louisiana, has been serving the area near Fort Polk, a United States Army instillation in Vernon Parish, for more than 40 years. The store was founded by Marion J. Smith, a soldier turned store-owner whose years of service and devotion made him renowned among Louisiana jewelers. A great majority of Smith Jewelers’ customers are soldiers and also retired military due to their close proximity to Fort Polk.  The store has been reached by soldiers from overseas to purchase engagement rings and even after families have moved on to other bases, they have still contacted the store to purchase and service their jewelry.

For years, the name Smith has been synonymous with excellence in the jewelry profession in north central Louisiana. The tradition began in 1950. Founder Marion J. Smith, after serving in two wars with the U.S. Navy, opened his first jewelry store in Crystal City, Texas. He sold the store when called to serve in the Navy Reserves. When he returned to his home in Jackson Parish, he married Girline Murphy of Jonesboro, Louisiana. For the next 15 years, Marion worked for Rogers Jewelry of Jonesboro, perfecting his skills in the jewelry industry. In 1966, Marion and Girline Smith opened their jewelry store and immediately went about building a strong reputation for Smith Jewelers’ first location in Hodge, Louisiana. As the business grew, Girline earned a degree in gemology and served as a National Bridal Consultant, one of the few trained welcome-homeprofessionals in this field. A store unrivaled in quality and prestige, Smith Jewelers was the hallmark location for jewelry fashion for north central Louisiana.

As Smith Jewelers prospered through the dedication and hard work of its founders and the loyalty of its customers, many individuals, both civic and professional, acknowledged the achievements of the family. In recognition of the Smith family’s attainment of excellence in the jewelry profession, Marion Smith was named president of the Louisiana Jewelers Association in 1971. His leadership qualities contributed to his being selected to serve in numerous civic capacities and other professional appointments, such as the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Jewelers Association for 23 years.

With business brisk and the Smith reputationfor quality well established, the family opened another store in Jackson Parish, this one on the boulevard of Main Street in Jonesboro, Louisiana. Just one year later, in 1974, the family would open another store, a venture that would bring Smith Jewelers to Leesville, Louisiana. This location has been the area’s headquarters for fine jewelry and service for 36 years. During these years, the Smiths have been repeatedly recognized as leaders in the industry. Smith Jewelers was selected as the first Outstanding Jeweler in Louisiana by the Louisiana Jewelers Association in 1977.

Smith Jewelers About Us

Current Owner, Angie Dowden

 

The current location on Highway 171 in Leesville is owned and operated by Marion and Girline’s daughter, Angela. Angie has earned degrees in jewelry repair, jewelry manufacturing arts, stone setting, and is a Graduate Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America. “The key to business today is networking,” Angie says, echoing the sentiments of her father. “If you don’t network with other jewelers, you’re out there on an island by yourself.”

 




Feature Friday – Steve Miller

I’ve always wanted to do something different. I wanted to see the world and what it had to offer. That’s how I ended up in the U.S. Army. I served on active duty for about 12 years wifeand then spent time in the Reserves for a total of 22 years. And I can honestly say, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

After the Army, I decided to go to school for nursing. I was an EMT at the time and woke up one morning and realized that the medical field just wasn’t for me. I was on the hunt again.

My mom told me about Stuller because she used to work for Matt Stuller’s father. I remember when I was little, she would try and teach me while mixing investment for teeth molds. If I’d known I would have ended up at Stuller, I would have paid more attention!

I applied for a job in traditional manufacturing. It took me a while to get hired. I didn’t want my mom “putting in a good word” for me. I wanted to do it all on my own. And in 1995, I joined the Stuller family.

I worked in traditional manufacturing for a bit and after a presentation one day, a VP walked up to me and told me that he liked what I had done, that they were bringing a tools division to Stuller, and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. Of course, I was excited. I knew a little about tools since we used some in manufacturing, but a lot was new.

I’ve been working with Andy “the Tool Guy” since the beginning. He would bring me tools to test. And in 2004, we started the Stuller Tools Tech Line.

Today, I’m a part of the Tools Tech Team. We help customers with every sort of issue you can imagine. If they purchase a tool, and don’t quite know how to use it, they’ll call us. We’ll also give customers tips and tricks on how to get the most out of their tool purchases. I truly believe we have the best customer service around. We always go an extra 100 miles to make sure the customer is comfortable with their new purchase and that theyjck understand how to use the item. The job is challenging, but I enjoy every minute. Even after being with Stuller for more than 20 years, I still learn something new almost every day.

Of course, my favorite part of the job is helping our customers. A few years ago, a customer called and wanted two bands engraved with Hebrew. The jeweler was told it couldn’t be done. I knew I could help. I had him order the bands, I picked them up, and walked them to our engraving department and had what he wanted done. He was so thankful and that was well worth the trouble.

I stay inspired by teaching the newer team members. From sales associates, to marketers, to the jewelers that call in, I keep them up-to-date will all the new ways of doing things.

horseWhen I’m not at Stuller, I enjoy time with my family and my horses. I’ve been married to my wonderful wife for 16 years and we have one son. I have eight horses. I’ve been around them since I was about three years old. My favorite is Little Momma. I’m also a pretty competitive Fantasy Football player and the New Orleans Saints are my home team.




Feature Friday – Victor Valdez

My journey into and through the jewelry industry has been a long, yet fruitful one. I was born in Mexico and came to the United States with my parents when I was 12 years old. I served in the US Navy for four years and after, was lucky enough to become involved in the diamond business. I attended the American School of Diamond cutting in 1979 and worked for Helzberg Diamonds for five years.

storeI started Precision Diamonds in 1988. You see, I’m a diamond cutter by trade and wanted to call the store Precision Diamond Cutters, but decided to drop “cutters” and landed on Precision Diamonds. It was around this time that I was put in contact with Stuller as suggested by a colleague.

We’ve been in the business for 28 years this year. I manage the buying and selling of our diamonds, but we’re a full service jewelry store. Repairs are extremely important and for us. We’re pretty busy all year round with them. They seem to be a steady source of business for us. And last year, we were able to finally purchase a building of our own.

What really makes Precision Diamonds unique is that we TRULY treat our customers as family. Our customers often tell us how comfortable they are at our store and what great energy it has. I owe a large part of that to my amazing staff – my wife Candy, Lupita, Cruz, Bill, and our jeweler, Mo, who is also our nephew.

Technology has done great things for us. We’re able to do so much more business with CounterSketch® on our sales fFamily picloor and a laser welder in our shop. They’ve been a huge help!

My favorite part about being in this business is meeting new people and the couples getting married. It’s fun to watch their kids grow and watch them get married. And everyone becomes a part of the Precision Diamonds family.

I’ve recently become a proud father for the first time at 56. I’m now 59 and couldn’t be happier. I’m eager to see what the future has in store for us.




Feature Friday – Andy Kroungold

26811360Folks have been calling me “the Tool Guy” for as long as I can remember.

Before I found my true calling, I worked as a security guard at a buddy’s sidewalk sale. Over time, I became friends with the shop guys and they introduced me to the jewelry industry. I started by simply listening and cleaning the bathroom at the shop, but eventually graduated to setting, polishing, plating, and casting. And just like that, the tool guy was born. I loved watching them create things and thought it was the coolest thing.

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J.R. Newman and myself

I applied for a job at Swest in 1986. I joined their team as the assistant manager and technical advisor. J.R.Newman, the owner, became a great friend and mentor to me. He taught me a lot of what I know today. Every morning around 10:30am, I would go into J.R.’s office and we’d discuss the daily numbers. After a quick discussion, he’d pull out the Swest catalog and he’d go from product to product explaining each one. He’d give me tips and tricks that weren’t in the book, little tidbits and insights to share with customers to help them solve problems they may have been dealing with. I’ll never forget what J.R. did for me. I’m thankful for his guidance every day.

Time went on and changes were happening at Swest. In 1997, Darrell Warren came to Stuller to start the tools division, and I wanted in. I finally joined the team as a product manager and technical advisor.

30176947There was virtually no transition for me moving from Georgia to Lafayette. Everyone at Stuller was so inviting and friendly. They made me feel welcome from day one.

My fondest memory of Matt (something I still remember verbatim to this day) is when we ran into him at a local rodeo. See Matt and my son, Robby have the same birthday. So, my family and I were at the rodeo and we run into Matt. He shook my hand then got down on one knee eye level with my then five-year-old son and shook his hand and said “Welcome to Lafayette and to Stuller.” Right then and there I knew I wanted to do the best I possibly could for this man because of the way he treated my family.

I eventually moved into Sales working for Tip Cornell and Chris LaLanne. And when the last manager of the technical support team moved on, I assumed his role as well.

I’m now the director of tools and Stuller Bench, and I love it! My team is phenomenal. Each has a specialty, and together we span many years of at-the-bench experience and vast product knowledge. We are, without a doubt, the best at what we do.

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At the 2016 JCK Las Vegas Show

Our customers are the most important thing to me. I’ve worked with parents and grandparents. I’ve formed relationships that have spanned generations, and I now work with those folks’ kids and grandkids. It’s the greatest honor to me to see people that I gave a small piece of candy to when they were kids still do business with me today. It’s an opportunity I don’t take lightly. I promote honesty in all things, give the best advice I’m able, and work hard to ensure our customers always come out on top. I’ve learned that if you treat people with respect and decency and give them a fair price and good information, those customers will remain loyal to you.

Outside of Stuller I enjoy swimming and golfing. I used to swim in my younger days and still love the sport. And my grandfather — a huge role model in my life — loved to golf so that’s one way I honor his memory. I’ve been married to my wonderful wife Susan for 31 years. We have one son, Robby who is 23 years old and is greatest joy in both of our lives.

Thanks for listening and have a Stuller-iffic day!




Feature Friday – Doug Meadows

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The Meadows Family

I’m a transplant from Detroit, Michigan, 3rd generation bench jeweler, and 1st generation jewelry retailer. And my story starts with my grandfather, Arthur Meadows signing a lease at the Michigan Building in 1926 at the ripe, young age of 22. After 57 years of beautiful summers and cold winters, we left Michigan and in 1983, moved to Atlanta to begin a new chapter in our family jewelry business.

At around 13 years old, I started working summers at my dad’s shop doing whatever he didn’t feel like doing – polishing, scrubbing floors, etc. I always bugged my dad to go to work with him. I was so fascinated by everything. But my favorite thing to do was stretch my money. I’d get a penny, roll it through the mill, and make it a foot-long penny! In Detroit, the shop had huge windows, so I also liked to stick my head out and look around the corner at the Ambassador Bridge stretching across the Detroit River.

I started the business with my brother. I’m Doug; he’s David. We put our names together and voila – David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry was born.

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The David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry team

And I love to do it all! Thirty-five years ago, I was told that I wouldn’t be able too. I accepted the challenge and have come to realize that may have been the truth. Well, sort of, I can do it all, but not very well. I have learned to replace myself with amazing people that can do it better than I can. It’s hard to find good talent, but we have a great staff of seven full time, and four part time associates.

Diamonds make up the majority of our business, but we have lots of other focus areas i.e. custom design, repairs, etc. Since I started in this industry, repairs have always been very important. But as I grow, they have become more of a necessity and not so much a focus. There are so many different philosophies on and about repairs. None are right or wrong; just do what makes sense for your store.

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Our store

Technology also plays a big role in our business. It has helped me be here today. You have to embrace technology and change, take time to learn both, and they will become your best friends.

The two scariest stores for a guy to walk into are: a lingerie store and a jewelry store. So, I want folks to feel comfortable and welcomed. I want them to feel like they’ve just stepped into my living room. And that’s just the beginning.

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Mother’s Day contest winner

We do quite a bit of grassroots efforts and community involvement. We are big advocates of our local schools and partners in education. We have a writing contest every year called Dazzling Diamonds for Mom. I lost my mom to cancer 26 years ago, and this is to help commemorate her life. The kids write letters telling me how winning a diamond would honor their moms. This year we had more than 7,300 letters.

In addition, we do the flip coins for several of our local high school football teams. We create a custom diamond pendant for the homecoming queen. We do Diamond Island and the Drawing for Diamonds contest – lots of events and we’re always looking for more ways to get outside of our store.

I’ve been in the jewelry industry for 45 years now and have loved pretty much every moment. One of my favorite stories is about a gentleman who came in with a picture of a stained glass window in the chapel at Notre Dame. He wanted elements of the window incorporated into a ring design. It was challenging, but the result was amazing. The couple flew to Zambia Africa and had a private lunch at the base of Victoria Falls. He proposed there. And to top it all off, they were wed at the chapel at Notre Dame.

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Interviewing at the Stuller booth at the JCK Las Vegas Show

I first discovered Stuller back in the 80s through a sales rep named Skip Hargrove. Then in the 90s, Shawn Montgomery took the time to meet with me and share more about Stuller with me. We were invited to Stuller’s first Owner’s Conference (which is now Bridge) and I came out so excited and wanted to be one of Stuller’s many poster children. Every time I visit Stuller in Lafayette, LA, whether for a Bench Jeweler’s Workshop or a Bridge event, I leave knowing more than when I came in. Stuller has become my number 1 vendor.

About a year and a half ago, I had a scary tractor accident and was out of the store for a while. It took me some time to get back into things. During my down time, the staff was amazing and filled in any gaps I had left. So, when I returned, I discovered that I had been replaced! I had to figure out why I was getting up and coming to work in the morning. After a lot of thought and soul searching, I figured out I was the Hero Maker and Visionary of the company. And I can’t wait to see what the future holds!




Feature Friday – Vicki Sagrera

I never really saw myself working with jewelry. I always thought that I would do something creative, but never once thought that might be jewelry. But, as it turns out, I do have a very creative job here at Stuller!

 

3My journey to Stuller was much like others you’ve read — word of mouth. While I was working at a small grocery store in Pecan Island, a customer who came in often mentioned Stuller and the opportunities it offered. I decided to give applying a try and submitted an application. Looking back today, I feel like this was the best decision I’ve ever made career-wise.

 

I started out in the polishing department cleaning jewelry. Then I moved on to our Final Quality Assurance area where I was charged with inspecting and bagging finished products. After a while, I became a trainer in this area. One day, I was asked to inspect stones that were set in vendor pieces. I needed advice in order to inspect them properly. I headed to Diamonds and Gemstones for help. While there training to inspect vendor pieces, I learned of an opening in the diamond cutting area, and I thought, why not try for this too? That was 21 years ago.

 

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“I achieved the distinction of master diamond cutter and have been cutting stones for 13 years.”

As a diamond cutter, I cut and repair diamonds for both Stuller and our customers. After a five-year apprenticeship, I achieved the distinction of master diamond cutter and have been cutting stones for 13 years.

 

I LOVE my job and plan on being here until I retire. I truly can’t see myself working in any other industry. I love giving our customers the opportunity to present beautiful, well-cut diamonds that their customers will cherish for life. Diamond cutting is much more difficult than I could have ever imagined, but that didn’t stop me! I’m as stubborn as the diamond. Diamonds are very hard and have a certain way about them that makes each one a challenge. It makes me feel amazing to be able to restore a diamond to its full potential — sparkling and beautiful. And the folks I get to work with in my department make the job even better. They are as passionate as I am about working with diamonds.

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When I’m not cutting, I enjoy going home to Pecan Island to crab, shrimp (by cast netting), and crawfish with my family. I don’t do a lot of fishing because I don’t have the patience to wait for the fish to bite. I love to go camping and ride my golf cart just to relax. I also like to go on trips with my family. My sister and I try to take a trip each year picking a different state each time. My favorite trip so far was Hawaii.

 

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The Color Run

I also enjoy participating in local races to benefit different charities around Acadiana. Camellia Crossing Acadiana’s Gleaux Run, the Color Run, and the Courir Du Festival during Festival International de Louisiane are just some of my favorites.

 

If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell her to keep on the path she’s going because I’m loving the way life’s turned out so far.




Feature Friday – Dianna Rae High

Butterfly

This butterfly brooch won Best of Show at the 2015 Case Awards.

I started in the jewelry business when I married my husband in 1984. He grew up in a family jewelry store and my father-in-law inspired me to get into the business.  Many years later, I still love to be on the sales floor! Being a part of the most special time in someone’s life can be very rewarding.  There’s nothing like a hug from a client when she comes in to tell me that she said “yes!”. Or getting to hold the baby for the first time after selling a “push present”.  Or hearing nostalgic stories from a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary.

I’ve always loved to design jewelry for clients.  My goal is to help them find their inner designer.  It makes each piece of jewelry that I create so personal. So when my husband’s job moved us from Iowa to Louisiana, I dreamed of opening up a jewelry store that focused on custom design. My dream came true when I opened up Dianna Rae Jewelry.  Everything we do is custom, whether for stock or for a client.  And with Matrix, CounterSketch and 3D printing, custom gets easier every day.

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Our store

It’s pretty different here in the south. People are so, so nice. They love to share their family stories, their heritage, and of course, their food! Because heritage is so important here, we make a lot of family crest type jewelry like cuff links and rings.

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A cigar ring

Cuff-Links

Custom cuff links

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Custom eternity band

When a client asked me to make an eternity band with 12 one carat radiant cut diamonds, I couldn’t have imagined doing it without the technology that I have today.  The diamonds had to be precision cut and matched to fit her finger size.  The cutter scanned them and sent me the STL files of each diamond for our Matrix design.  When she tried it on for the first time and it fit perfectly, we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Pendant

This labradorite pendant placed 1st in its category at the 2015 Case Awards.

As much as I love my job and my clients, I have to remind myself how important it is to maintain a balance.  I keep God first, then family and friends, then work.  Being a wife and a mom and a business owner can be crazy at times.  But really, life is too short to be boring.




Feature Friday – Elizabeth Raffel

When I was 5, my father gave me a hardbound black book with lined pages. I think it was an appointment calendar with hours marked along the side of each page. Instantly, it became my most treasured possession, a magical space for all my dearest thoughts and dreams. Soon after, my family moved and the book disappeared. I was inconsolable and kept searching for it in our new home. It never did turn up.

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Just a few of my many, many journals

When I was a little older, I poured my heart into diaries — locked so no prying eyes could see them. I still have them and they’re equal parts humorous and heart-wrenching. And as an adult, I made up for my early loss by collecting many lined journals that I filled with thoughts and experiences.

 

Getting into words

I didn’t plan to be a writer. But my parents were verbally sophisticated and my siblings and I were expected to speak like adults as soon as possible. Ditto for conducting intelligent conversation with adults. It was expected and we did it. My mother read to us a lot and soon enough we were reading, lost in story world. This emphasis on words and how to use them meant writing came naturally to me.

 

As if that weren’t enough

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My daughter, Wendy, and I

I grew up, went to college, and married a writer and professor who wrote and published extensively. While pregnant with our daughter, one of my husband’s former graduate students became an editor at a New York romance publishing house. For some reason, she thought she could convince him to write a romance.

She failed but I took the bait. I mailed her two chapters and three days later, I had a contract. It wasn’t great money — no royalties — but it was something. I wrote several more romances, but I didn’t like the solitary life of a writer. I needed to be around people and get more immediate feedback.

 

Advertising saves the day

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My first professional picture as a copywriter

That’s when I started thinking about advertising. My father had worked in advertising, marketing, and sales for years because it was impossible to support his growing family as a professor. He took to it like a duck to water. I remembered him critiquing ads and pointing out what worked and what didn’t. And like most Americans, I had years of experience watching and reading ads.

The first agency I approached hired me and I’ve spent most of my working life in this world. I’m an enthusiast, motivated by the opportunity to learn about different products, services, and subjects. And I love deadlines because I like completing projects quickly if at all possible.

 

 

 

Meeting Stuller Inc.

I live five minutes from here, but I had only the sketchiest idea about Stuller. Fine jewelry, big building, local founder and philanthropist: that was it. As luck would have it, I joined Stuller’s Marketing Department in March 2013 to fill in for a copywriter going on maternity leave. I hoped she’d be here to show me the ropes. Guess what? Her baby arrived the day before I began. Let’s just say I had a steep learning curve as I absorbed Stuller’s vast domain and product selection.

 

As some of you know

Those of you who’ve attended Bridge®, BenchJeweler Workshop, or technology training, know what I mean when I say Stuller is mind-boggling. Touring the building soon after I started, I was left almost — but not quite! — speechless. In all honesty, words can’t fully communicate the size and manufacturing capabilities housed under this big roof.

 

Get the picture?

Pictures and video give some idea of Stuller but you have to experience the scale, the many people, the processes, the machinery, and technology. Everything is in motion at the same time and everyone is working on some aspect of jewelry creation. Then you see how it all comes together and gets shipped to you. That’s an adventure in itself.

 

Our Marketing Department

When I started in Marketing, it included PR and social media, and photography and video people and resources. We numbered 30+ amazing people. Soon we merged with our ecommerce department, premier events, the Stuller.com programmers, and our customer experience team. We now have 80+ amazing people. We touch everything you see from our famous catalogs and the entire Stuller.com universe to brochures, emails, handouts, and the booth graphics you see at tradeshows.

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The Marketing Team

 

Platinum quality

I used to say my coworkers were worth their weight in gold. Now I tell people they’re worth their weight in platinum. I have rarely if ever encountered such a dedicated and committed group — especially one of this size. Their work ethic and positive attitude never cease to amaze and inspire me. No matter what pressure they’re under, they’ll drop what they’re doing to help someone else. In other words, we’re a team. Management holds us to high standards and we all look for ways to improve. The thing is, that’s pretty much the story throughout the company.

 

By the way

During my interview, my current boss said it was a good place to work. Of course, I wanted to judge for myself. After three years, I couldn’t agree more.

 




Feature Friday – Kevin Kelly

There are two things that can get me out of the jewelry store in a hurry — my family and an open fairway. And much like my golf game, where no matter how many shots end up in the rough or how many drives I slice, there’s always something that keeps me coming back. In the jewelry business, it’s family.

My family, including my wife, four children and five grandchildren, remains my passion on a daily basis. My wife of 36 years, Maureen, has worked by my side since we were married. In the tough years, when we weren’t making much of a living and it might have been wiser to quit, Maureen never questioned me or what we were doing. She only worked harder. My children have at one time or another been a part of the business as well. In fact, my favorite moment in the store occurred when my son met his future wife while working there on Christmas Eve morning. And even though our grandchildren aren’t old enough to work, from store visits to broken earrings that need mending, they still find ways to be a part of Kevin Kelly Jewelers.


Over the years, I’ve found that I love everything about the business: the challenges of running my own business in an ever-changing world, helping develop the creative talents in my employees, helping create some of the most special moments in people’s lives. We’re fortunate that people who stop in for a repair become lifelong customers when they see what we have to offer. And I’d like to believe the reason we’ve seen success is because of family, both our real family members and the people who’ve become like family.
For more than a decade, two employees have used their creativity and talents to expand our offerings and create special experiences for our customers. Melissa works with Countersketch to allow customers to become a bigger part of designing their jewelry and to allow us to create just what we want the way we want it. Steven is a talented stone setter and goldsmith, and I look forward to watching his continued growth once I pass the bench torch to him. Other employees with less experience, but just as much promise, include our youngest daughter, Mary Kathleen; a sales associate, Jessie; and another goldsmith, Patrick. All of them, with their unique skill sets, have become a part of our family.

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I started in the jewelry business right out of high school, when a neighbor thought I was a nice kid and offered to pay my way through trade school. After graduating from Gem City College in 1974, I worked in a trade shop for a year and then in my neighbor’s retail store for five before he retired and I took over. We started out as a wholesale trade shop, moved into a retail repair shop and transformed ourselves into a more traditional retail store. Needless to say, repairs have been the backbone of our business for many years.

We learned about Stuller in the early 1990s and were so impressed with the interest the employees took in our store. We’ve attended the Bench Jeweler Workshop for 10 years, coming back each year with new ideas about improving our store. Stuller has become part of our family too.

At age 60, with retirement a handful of years away, I feel good knowing I can pass on the business to people who are now family and who will continue the customer-first approach we started so many years ago. Knowing that will help me rest easier upon retirement — and perhaps even help me hit my drives straighter.

Want to be featured for Feature Friday? Send your story to stuller@stuller.com! We’d love to hear from you!




Feature Friday – Coby Blanchard

image3I remember a time when Stuller had no computer network, not a PC in sight; yup it’s been that long! My story starts in 1994 when I was attending college at the local university – the University of Louisiana at Lafayette pursuing a degree in Industrial Technology. A friend of mine who already worked for Stuller told me about the company and encouraged me to apply. So, I did and started a short time later.

I began by helping computerize inventory management for the diamonds and gemstones department. This was a great way to get my feet wet in jewelry manufacturing. I knew nothing about the jewelry business coming in, but that was okay because diamonds and gemstones were new to Stuller at that time as well. I had the opportunity to help organize and start that part of the business.

Soon after, I began planning inventory for the same area. Then, in 2001, I joined IT as a systems analyst to help implement our new Oracle ERP system. This was a huge step in ensuring that Stuller would deliver the best service possible to our customers. During the next several years, I was lucky enough to be called upon to help almost every area of the company rediscover itself in this new computer system. The amount of holistic learning was incredible. I was able to build relationships and better understand the systems required to run the entire business. I truly enjoy making complicated processes simpler, more efficient, and helping people throughout the organization see how their processes connect and support the bigger picture.

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Stuller’s Sustain Model For Improvement Read it here!

Within a few years, I was asked to take on a more formal process improvement role and lead a new Process Improvement Department. The team was tasked with continuing the work, more deliberately, with many of the company’s departments in an effort to improve processes. I continued to gain tremendous respect for the jewelry making processes and the people responsible for its success.

I am very grateful to work for Stuller. I love this company. It has given me so many opportunities, and I’ve acquired tremendous experience, as well as, long lasting friendships. I was eventually promoted to chief supply chain officer. I still remember when Matt Stuller and then CEO, Jay Jackson told me that they had chosen me for this role. I stood up out of the chair and jumped up. I gave Matt a hug, gave Jay a hug and I said, “Absolutely, absolutely, I’d love to do it.”

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TEAM STULLER at the 2015 Camellia Crossing Glow Run in support of Miles Perret Cancer Services

The primary function of chief supply chain officer at Stuller includes the fulfillment of customer orders. This means the planning of ‘on the shelf’ inventory, just-in-time manufacturing, CAD/CAM fulfillment, pick/pack/ship, and transportation. In order for this to happen, the right people have to be motivated to do the hard work to put the pieces in place. This is where Stuller stands out, its people. I don’t see this as a job. It’s really just what I do! I’m always ‘thinking’ about it. I talk to people about work and probably annoy them, but I just really love it.

I love the amount of care our people have for keeping our promise to our customers. It’s flattering when customers say, “Man, you always get it done. I never worry about it. I just call and order and it’s here the next day.” This only happens because our people care about our customers.

 

5 Questions with Coby

1. What do you do in your free time?image2

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of boating. I am also into fitness. I go to the gym
every morning.

2. What makes you unique?

My style. I’m generally a pretty calm person.

3. If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?

Be more open, vocal, and build relationships. I was pretty shy growing up.

4. Do you have any advice for folks looking to get into this industry?

Be open to change. Stuller is driven by a consumer market that demands a lot of new things.

5. What’s something that most people working at Stuller that you’ve known for years wouldn’t know about you?

I worked in a sugarcane refinery right out of high school before I realized the importance of a secondary education.