Tivol, the influential fine jewelry retailer based in Kansas City, Mo., has always been a family affair. Owner Cathy Tivol’s grandfather, Charles Tivol, founded the business in 1910, and it’s been family owned and operated ever since.
This week, the retailer and CEO carried on Tivol’s tradition of successorship by promoting her son, Hunter Tivol McGrath, to vice president of the company, which has two locations.
McGrath started his career as a CPA—he has a master’s degree in accounting and was working for a local accounting firm. But when his sister, Brooke, passed away in January 2011, “it really made me rethink my career,” he says. “We had talked about going into the business together at some point, and her passing made me rethink what I wanted to do.” (Earlier this year, he and his wife, Gloria, welcomed a baby girl, Brooke, who’s named after his sister.)
At Tivol, he started out as a sales associate and eventually earned his gemology degree from GIA while also studying various facets of the business, including diamond buying and long-term strategic planning for the store.
He currently oversees the store’s day-to-day operations, saying, “Right now we are transitioning our software over, and I’m heavily involved in that. And before I became VP, I was our diamond buyer, so I’m training someone else to take over that role.”
But he’s still on the sales floor, a part of the business McGrath says he never wants to give up. “I love working with numbers and figures,” he adds, “but I didn’t realize how much I could and do enjoy working with people on a daily basis.”
Cathy, on the other hand, recognized her son as a people person from the get-go.
“It was interesting when Hunter chose to get a master’s in accounting—and then his CPA—because…he is absolutely stellar at meeting people and forming relationships,” she says. “His warmth and genuine interest in people comes through at work, both in interacting with the staff and the public.” And because he’s of the millennial generation, she adds, “he brings a fresh perspective to Tivol. And his sense of humor makes him a delight to be around.”
McGrath says working for his mom has been equally delightful so far: “She’s great to work with and work for. She has very high standards, expects the best from everyone (including me), and she’s always professional and fair. Best of all, she’s fun.
(Photo courtesy of Tivol)