68, first generation
55, first generation
31, second generation
Amanda Thacker’s first career was about as far from jewelry as one could imagine. The 31-year-old worked as an emergency medical technician for four years after college. “I was the stubborn girl who didn’t want to work for my family,” she says. But she grew up working in the store—Lubbock, Texas–based Thacker Jewelry—and was always drawn to business. Her parents, Joe and Ann, founded the company in the tiny town of Roaring Springs, Texas (population: 231), in 1979. “There was always the idea that we would love to have her work in the business,” says Joe. As the brand flourished over the years (it currently includes a full-fledged retail location in Lubbock and a smaller showroom and manufacturing facility in Roaring Springs), opportunities for Amanda expanded. In 2007, she made the leap to full-time employee at Thacker, and she hopes to take over the business one day. “Working in the store was always something I enjoyed,” she says. “I’ve been business-oriented since a very young age.… My mom says I was born with a calculator in my hand.”
Amanda: We manufacture jewelry in Roaring Springs, where I grew up. And my family has known all the people who work for us there forever. I grew up with their kids, and it’s really just one big happy family. It’s very comfortable.
Joe: I have a very high regard for family. My brother, Jeff, also works with us—he runs the factory in Roaring Springs. One of the reasons we home-schooled our kids was to have the ability to function as a family in any environment. We’ve always stressed with our children that it’s important to be able to communicate with anyone, in any environment.
Joe: Ann was home a lot when our kids were younger, since they were home-schooled. But she’s back full-time and I’m delighted about that. Ann is very much the artist. We’ve just finished creating a new showroom and it’s absolutely incredible, and she is responsible for that. She has that artistic touch as well as the real-world comprehension of how to achieve that. She used to run the store in Roaring Springs, and she’s very organized and good at staying on top of things that need to be done. Amanda and I both have that letting-details-slip-through-your-hands thing sometimes. She’s not that way.
Amanda: I do a little bit of everything right now. I’m considered an office manager, but I do sales, I do inventory control, employee training, and a lot of the buying. I used to do our social media, but now my mom has pretty much taken that over. She’s really good at it! Also, being able to be a part of the design and manufacturing side of things has been really exciting for me.
Ann: I think the three of us have distinctly different strengths and viewpoints. And the way we’re able to bring all those together for a common cause has been really wonderful.
Hurdles and Highlights
Ann: The biggest challenge we have as a family working together is probably our ability to communicate. It’s one of the most important things we have to do, but it requires constant effort.
Joe: There’s always friction in a family business—especially as your children grow and you give them more responsibility. Your livelihood and the livelihood of 22 families [of the company’s employees] are at stake. But it’s extremely rewarding to see my daughter grow and learn and mature in the business, and in her life. We look at it as a blessing.
Amanda: We don’t always agree, but we have the same goal at heart. So it may take us a couple of rounds, but things usually work out well in the end.
Amanda: I’ve definitely learned everything I know about sales and how to make friends with customers from my dad. He’s great at that. Ann has taught me how to be organized—by nature I’m not a very organized person. She’s taught me to pay attention to details.
Joe: [Laughs] She’s also taught Amanda how to argue! What Amanda brings that’s so valuable is that youthful outlook. She understands what [millennials] want; she bridges that generation gap for us.
Ann: Joe and I have been working together for a long time, and we do that well. We really do enjoy it. I love that he never makes a snap decision—he always takes his time and thinks things through, whereas I’m more inclined to act on things immediately. He says, “Let’s sleep on it,” and that has never been a bad thing. He’s also very diplomatic with employees and very engaging on the sales floor. Amanda is…very good with financial details and inventory details. She also approaches employee issues from a soft stance, and has great rapport with them.
Amanda: Coming into the business, you have to realize that you don’t know everything about it. Take advantage of the knowledge and experience that’s being offered.
Ann: I think you have to have a place for everyone in the business. Part of that is letting the next generation grow, and helping them find their place.
Joe: If you’re bringing a son or daughter into the business, communication is extremely important. Also, let them make the decision of whether they want to join the business. You’ll want to push them into that, but I think it’s really important that they make that decision. You have to step back.
Top: Thacker Jewelry’s Amanda, Joe, and Ann Thacker; inset: Joe Thacker at the bench with jeweler Brian Tran
Photographs by Lissa Anglin