After 15 years heading the JCK trade show division (with the last three also overseeing JCK magazine), Dave Bonaparte is moving on to the one of the most prestigious positions in our industry: president and CEO of Jewelers of America. Bonaparte begins his new role in October, working alongside current CEO Matt Runci. He will fully take the helm next January. In his first interview since the announcement of his appointment, he discusses why he’s making this move, and where he plans to take the venerable organization:
JCK: Why did you decide to make this move?
Dave Bonaparte: It’s something I’m really excited about. It gives me the ability to make a really positive impact on the industry. I wasn’t really looking around for a job and this kind of found me. After going along the process, it became a natural fit for me. I’ll be serving the constituencies I was serving at JCK—the retailers and exhibitors.
JCK: What is your priority as JA’s new CEO?
DB: There is a huge opportunity to grow the organization. Matt did a very strong job in running the organization, and he leaves an organization that is extremely stable. I think in the future it can serve not only the retailers, but also look at new ways and opportunities to serve manufacturers. And so I plan to be talking a lot with suppliers about the benefits of joining Jewelers of America.
At JCK, I have a unique perspective, as I’ve had a global view, and exposure to both the retailers and the manufacturing community. Not many people have exposure to both sides of the business. The beauty of JA is it’s a very diverse organization, serving the needs of large, medium, and small retailers, as well as suppliers. It serves the needs of the entire community.
JCK: You have a trade show background. Will you be involved in the JA Show?
DB: No. The two organizations are separate.
JCK: Will JA continue its current “issue” focus?
DB: Absolutely. What really enticed me to the job was how important JA’s role is in the industry—how it tries to stay ahead of the issues and react on behalf of the retail jeweler community, and then to really educate people and try to head off the issues.
JCK: What do you see as the biggest issue facing jewelers?
DB: There are a multitude of issues and challenges retailers face in their day-to-day business—from the mines all the way down to the point of sale. The Kimberley Process will stay an important process, as well as other issues around conflict diamonds and conflict minerals. These issues are all going to remain relevant. We also want to stay involved with the Responsible Jewellery Council and other groups that are involved in these topics.
JCK: Anything else you want people to know?
DB: Just my appreciation to Reed Exhibitions. Yancy Weinrich and John Tierney have been running the business for the last few years, and they have built a solid foundation with the support of senior management. I think what separates JCK from other organizations is its desire to really listen to the issues of people in the industry.
I am fortunate. Everything I have been able to do in the industry is due to Reed Exhibitions. I am very grateful for that.