Change Agent: Talking to Richard Kessler of Kesslers Diamonds

Retailer Richard Kessler outlines his grand succession planRichard Kessler, owner of Kesslers Diamonds—an ­independent fine jewelry retailer based in Germantown, Wis.—hopes that in roughly five years, he won’t own a shred of the company he founded 35 years ago. Why? A slow transfer of ownership is central to his personal succession plan. The bustling business, which will open its sixth and seventh locations (in downtown Milwaukee and Grand Rapids, Mich., respectively) this year, instituted a 401(k)-style plan for its staff in 2011 that will gradually transfer full ownership from Kessler to his employees. And soon, more staffers will benefit from the perk. “We have a very aggressive plan for expansion over the next few years,” explains the 63-year-old Kessler. “We could triple the size of our company and have 300 employee owners. That would just be a marvelous thing in my wor

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