Springer’s sells happiness, and no one’s happier than Rick Beaulieu working with his daughters
Third-generation retailer Rick Beaulieu, owner of Springer’s Jewelers in Portland, Maine, was perfectly fine with his daughters, Lilly and Zoe, not going into the family business. Why? When he joined his father at Springer’s, “we’d gone through the whole thing of the next generation coming in and learned that it can be confusing. Everyone thinks there’s more than one boss, for instance.” To make everyone’s transition easier, he started both girls at the bottom. “I was basically a Gal Friday,” recalls Lilly, who came on in 2008 after working in advertising upon graduating from the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Zoe, a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston who earned her gemology degree at GIA before joining Springer’s full-time in 2012, says starting at square one “gave us a really well-rounded view of what’s going on. You don’t want to go into a family business with any arrogance or sense of privilege.”
Lilly: I was full-time sales for a while, but I was getting pulled off the floor all the time for big-picture things. I felt it was really unfair to the sales team that I was gone so much. So it made sense for me to become the company’s brand manager. I had to convince my dad that I didn’t make up the position of brand manager. [Laughing] It’s a real job!
Rick: [Laughing] I wasn’t sure what that was, but whatever her title, she’s doing a great job.
STEEPED IN HISTORY
Lilly: Zoe’s going to start training in estate buying. Buying and selling off the street is where we make our biggest margins. I think her seriousness and her ability to listen really well are going to give her a huge advantage there.
Zoe: I’ve been told what a waste of time [my] history degree was, and now it’s paying off in estate buying. It’s beautiful to see the hand detailing that went into estate jewelry and to be able to say to our customers, “Yes, you can do that, it’s been done.”
Lilly: The main challenge we have as a family is that we’re always losing things. The Beaulieus are famous for being airheads. So we’re all looking for things at the same time and driving everyone else crazy all day long.
Rick: My favorite part of working with my family is seeing when they’ve made a sale and they’re really excited about it. We’re in the business of making people happy. My daughters understand that.
EASY DOES IT
Lilly: For a short time we were a part of a networking group for family businesses in Maine. We had to fill out all these questionnaires about how we do things, and we realized we don’t operate like that. We are really laid back. That sets the tone for everything.
Zoe: Our family has such a great dynamic. We are really honest with each other and have always been. It’s easy to talk things out. We work together, we vacation together. To outsiders we must look like a bunch of weirdos.