Though Siebke Hoyt Jewelers has occupied its current home for only about a decade, its roots trace back to 1889, when watchmakers George Ludy and Robert Taylor opened a jewelry store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After more than 100 years of mergers, marriages, and children—plus a few openings (and closings) in the 1980s and '90s—the Hoyts, led by Joseph ("Jay"), the store president, have turned Siebke Hoyt into a bona fide Cedar Rapids institution. In 2011, Jay's son Joe, a former golf pro, came on board, overseeing sales and marketing. And it hasn't taken him long to get into the swing of things.
Jay: In the 1980s when I became president, I made bridal and diamond fashion our core products. Also, I started bringing in more exotic colored stones. Twenty years later, we're one of the leading diamond and colored stone stores in our area.
Joe: My father has grown the business by taking well-calculated, well-timed risks. When we broke ground on this store in 2001, it was an up-and-coming mall development. Today, the store is located on one of the busiest intersections in southeastern Iowa.
Jay: When I was in my early 20s, my grandfather died. I was forced to take over the store—a month after I started.
Joe: After college, I was teaching golf and playing in pro tournaments. Invariably, I'd talk about the family business on the golf course. After years, it finally dawned on me that I have this gift of developing relationships, and that it could be better applied in the store. So I left golf, got my G.G. certification from GIA, and came to work with my father.
Jay: In the early 1980s, I started building relationships with some of the biggest diamond cutters in the world. As the store's only diamond buyer, I've built this portion of our family business, first for bridal and now for diamond fashion. Now I'm dealing with the diamond cutters' children, and they're starting to deal with my son.
Joe: These days, transactions either start or are completely done online, or even a mobile device. We've developed many areas of our business, but e-commerce hasn't been touched. This presents tremendous opportunities.
Jay: I look back at the 1980s and 1990s as the dark days of the business. They were the "mall days," when we opened multiple mall stores to compete on price. The days of carrying what everybody else had—thousands of SKUs deep—are gone forever. Now we're back to the way we used to run our business in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s: knowing customers, identifying people by name, and making custom pieces.
Joe: The traditions for me that are important to continue are becoming an astute diamond buyer like my father, continuing his passion for colored stones, and making ours the most comfortable place to buy jewelry.