Reuven Kaufman has been a prominent figure at the Diamond Dealers Club for some time, having served as chairman of the board in the 1990s. Last week, the club’s board elected the former bourse secretary its new president, following the resignation of Moshe Mosbacher. No doubt Kaufman has a big (and important) job ahead of him. In an exclusive interview with JCK, Kaufman stresses that he and his team are determined to set things right:
What is your first priority?
I want to convey that we are working a team. We have Jacob Zupnick coming back as treasurer. [Vice President] Basant Johari is very devoted to the club. We have a very dedicated board and they will all be part of the decision making process.
We are in the midst of finishing up with our landlord, but we will soon announce a restructuring of the club that will save at least $200,000 a year. We will not be taking away any club space. We are just reorganizing in the back.
I will make every effort to bring back the old members. I want to visit each and every one of them. I already spoke to some of them and they want to come back. I spoke to Ronnie Friedman at the DMIA about how we can work with them and how we can all work under one umbrella with defined roles.
We will come back tenaciously and indefatigably. We will come back as a force in the market. We will right this ship.
How do you see your role?
[Traditionally] the president mostly ran his own business with the managing director running things day-to-day. I have my own business. My business is not the club. We can no longer have people adopting the club as their business.
What is the status of the current audit of the club’s books?
Everything is still under investigation. We want to make sure that we have all the facts. We haven’t swept anything under the rug. It may turn out things will be okay, but everything is being looked at 100 percent with a fine-tooth comb.
Can the club erase its current deficit?
That is number one. I think the website can bring us new members and revenue. The deficit is not insurmountable. What happened is that people lost control of things. We will cut wherever we have to cut. If we get back members, I can definitely see us getting rid of this deficit.
[Consultant/accountant] Michael Rubin told us that it will take 18 months to right something like this. We think we can do it in a year.
Will you be representing the DDC at world meetings?
Only when I have to. Nothing will be spent frivolously. I already travel a lot for business so I can add club business onto that. I can do it on my own dime; I have no problems doing that.
You obviously took office under unusual circumstances. When is the next election?
We all will serve until January 2013. I really feel if we have an election now we have to start with nominating committees and that will consume everyone’s time. We have a devoted board. We all know the problems. Now we have to go to work.
We all have one year. If we haven’t done the job, they can vote us out. Noone is here for our own popularity. But we all have a responsibility.
Any other things we should expect from you?
We want to reach out to the major jewelry organizations and bring them to New York, to do something like the old market weeks. We can still have a viable trading floor. There are definitely enough goods there.
We can also look at bringing our members overseas. Whenever I go to shows, there is an Indian pavilion, there is an Israeli pavilion—but no American pavilion.
We will make this a viable organization. If anyone has any suggestions, we are ready to hear them. We are ready to work with everybody. The DDC is here to stay. We are not giving up.