When Joe Corey decided he wanted to join the family business, Day’s Jewelers, his parents, owners Jeff and Kathy, had him apply for a customer service spot as if he were a regular Joe—not Joe Corey. “We were not involved in any way, shape, or form in his hiring,” explains Kathy, who bought the Waterville, Maine–based Day’s Jewelers, now six stores strong, with Jeff in 1988. “The person who would be supervising him made that decision.” Having grown up in the business, Joe quickly excelled, eventually entering the Day’s management trainee program. (He now manages the 10,000-square-foot Manchester location.) Still, he says, “I’ve had to prove myself. I’ve worked hard to eliminate any thinking that I am where I am because of who I am.”
Jeff: In planning for our future, we’ve been cautious to grow in the right way, and we’ve taken a look at reasons why businesses fail. One of the big ones is nepotism. We’ve seen this so many times: Mom and dad build a business, pass it on to their son, and that’s the beginning of the end. We’ve been careful to avoid that. Our children…have had to apply like anyone else off the street.
Joe: I started working for our South Portland store as a service specialist in 2006. At first I didn’t have much passion for it. But one year I went on vacation to Mexico and came back feeling more of a sense of responsibility. If I was going to make something of this, I had to take control of it. I wanted more. So I knew I had to work my way up. I would like to be an owner of the business one day and be involved in the decision-making.
Jeff: When Joe was a very young boy, I used to take him with me from store to store and he enjoyed the jewelry business. His people skills are exceptional. And he treats every customer and his employees with tremendous respect. He embraces the whole adage “To have happy customers, you must have happy employees.” So he creates a family environment…although I hear he’s a tough a manager. [Laughs]
Kathy: I think there was a lifelong education in the business through osmosis. All three of our children have pretty strong business logic and understand how important the customer is. Joe really brings that to the table—how we need to stop everything we’re doing and sort of service people to death.
Joe: My mom’s ability to be professional in all of her actions is something I really admire. And my dad is magical with people and has made connections throughout the entire industry. He’s just a very down-to-earth person. People listen when he speaks.
Jeff: The best part of working with my family is that we have a lot in common. The business part…has actually worked to bring us closer together. But none of us supervise each other—we’re all accountable to different people. It makes for great conversation around the dinner table.