Neither sleet nor snow nor recession can stop this family from growing its century-old legacy
Jeffrey Roseman’s grandfather became a jeweler in 1914 and worked his way through the Great Depression in various jewelry-store jobs until he hung out his own shingle in Bridgeport, Conn., in the early ’40s. Jeffrey jumped into the family business during another economically tumultuous time: In 1980, he went to work with his dad, Harvey, at David Harvey Jewelers in Norwalk, Conn. Twelve years later, the duo doubled the store’s square footage and brought another generation into the fold: Jeffrey’s son Ben and Ben’s wife, Kayli, help Jeffrey oversee the Darien, Conn., location that opened in 2008—in the midst of another economic disaster. It takes more than a recession to stop the Rosemans.
Jeffrey: When I entered the business in 1980, the country was in a terrible recession. Instead of pulling back, we shored up our base, got aggressive, and expanded. In 2008, when the housing market crashed, we opened a second store. Although it was difficult opening a second location at the start of another recession, the Darien store has proved to be a very good business decision.
Ben: I didn’t have the luxury of working in other companies or other retail jewelry stores. My family needed me, so I quickly got to work as vice president. And I had to step up and be more than “Daddy’s little helper.” To earn respect with the customers, I became very service-focused and solved their problems until I built my own customer base. Vendors were the most difficult, but I proved to them the goods I was buying were selling, and that I was handling accounts receivable just as effectively as my father.
Kayli: I changed my major from engineering to marketing when I met Ben in college. I knew I’d one day work in the family store. My first big project was getting the bookkeeping off paper and on QuickBooks.
Building a Legacy
Jeffrey: I’ve always had the ability to methodically become more hands-off. I’m looking to retire in the next three to five years. At that time, I can serve in an advisory or consultancy role and make time to do more with education.
Ben: The Darien store means a lot to me—not just in terms of the business, but the vindication that our instincts in opening a store in this affluent area was a good move. I was here when this store was a concrete slab, and I was responsible for the design and development of the actual building and interior decorating. The biggest challenge was getting two stores to think and act together. IT solutions helped with the administrative part, but the bigger challenge was establishing similar corporate cultures. The staff does have that synchronization between the two stores, but we also have some fun and healthy sales competitions.
Jeffrey: I teach family business and human resources…at Fairfield University. When I retire, I’ll teach full time.
Kayli: I wish I could be an at-home mother raising the fifth generation of jewelers. For now, I’m juggling being a mother and work. I’ll return to the store full time in the near future…to assume the role of vice president so Ben can take his father’s position as president.