The Uneasy Succession at Krementz

In the fall of 1997, Richard Krementz Jr. sat down in his company’s mostly empty building to ponder the fate of the business, one of America’s most venerable jewelry manufacturers. Family members had owned and operated Krementz & Co.—the originator of gold overlay—since 1866, and Krementz, third-generation descendant of the company’s founder, once had planned for his son to manage and inherit the Newark, N.J., firm. That dream had ended a decade before when the two parted ways. Now Krementz, 70, had neither a buyer nor an heir. It had not always been so. As a child, Richard Krementz III (known as Rick) would watch his father pull a rare gem out of his pocket and challenge him to guess its worth. Other times his father would pile a handful of some colored gemstone on the kitchen table and defy him to identify the stone and where it came from. At 12, Rick Krementz accompani

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