The following is a transcript of an “Inside the Jewelry Trade” Radio Show episode titled: ITJT 003: Exclusive Conversation with Matt Stuller.
This is part three of a three-part transcripted article that covers the exclusive conversation with Matt Stuller, who is the Chairman and Founder of Stuller Inc.
This is a link to the episode which was released on June 29th, 2014: ITJT 003: Exclusive Conversation with Matt Stuller.
Electronic transcription is seldom perfect. Please accept our apologies in advance if we missed a correction.
We sincerely wish to thank Matt Stuller for being so gracious with his time and sharing the story of Stuller Inc.
Also would like to thank Doug Meadows of David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry in Marietta, Georgia, for being instrumental in setting up and participating in the interview.
DOUG MEADOWS: I know that we use CounterSketch Studio a lot and Matrix. It has definitely been a game-changer for us here at our store, just really enjoyed it. You’ve accomplished so much both professionally and personally over these past decades. I’m just curious, what motivate you now and what personally drives you forward?
MATT STULLER: Yeah. Oh boy, Doug. That is a great question. I am so excited about the business today. I am an agent of change. So the quicker the change comes for me, the more excited I am in it. I think it’s fun. It’s like a puzzle. How do you figure out this puzzle? How do you employ it where it’s intuitive and it’s simple.
We’re constantly being thrown curve balls by the jewelers in the new services that they want, so I am really challenged by this. I would get bored if we would stay stagnant. We can’t have, as I described earlier in this interview, “A business model that doesn’t change over time.”
So I am really fully engaged. I get up in the morning and I am so excited about coming to work and about dealing with the future of the jewelry industry. Today, I’ve got many, many great people here at Stuller. They managed the business well. They deal with the day-to-day issues. I am involved because I need to understand what these issues are. I need to understand how we resolve them but more importantly is how can we embrace new things successfully.
So my job each day is putting on the hat of the future. It’s thinking about what can we do better or differently to be able to improve our service levels to the customer. I’m engaged with that. I love it. Although being in the business 44 years, some may say that’s been a long time and you should think about retiring or slow down, for me, man, I am wide open! I look at it as a great challenge. It’s fun. It’s a great game for me.
ROD WORLEY: You’ve been so gracious to provide insight into several areas today. But what question should we ask you that we didn’t?
MATT STULLER: Oh my goodness. Well, we could continue this interview for many, many hours. I am struggling today with what I’m going to do with the business going forward. I am 63 years young, by my nature, my responsibility and my job here at Stuller is that I am always planning for the future, so succession planning for me is really, really difficult. The biggest responsibility for me in succession planning is to continue to make Stuller very relevant to our incredible account base. Our customers, we feel, depend on us. They like doing business with us. We need to constantly be improving, so it’s more of a responsibility of maintaining the service moving into the future.
I do have three young children. I’m very pleased to say today that my oldest daughter Alex, who is 23, has now been at Stuller for two years. I’ve got a 19-year-old son and a 17-year-old caboose, the baby in the family. She is thinking about going to SCAD in Savannah for jewelry design, which tends to make me think maybe she wants to get into the jewelry business. I think it’s a very important role of how we continue succession. Not only in my business at Stuller, but in any business where someone spends their lifetime building a business.
It’s how do you continue to have continuity of it in the future? Whether it’s selling it to your children, whether it’s doing an ESOP and selling it to your employees, or whether you do a merger and acquisition with some other company that is within the industry.
I’m always looking at that, and I think my children are a bit too young right now for me to say my kids are going to take over in times to come. I need to train them. I need to be sure that they are sensitive to the customer and of the service levels of what can, we do for the customer instead of what can the customer do for us. That lays very, very heavy on me because you never know what the proverbial bus is going to do. We could get handed a death sentence today or die on the way home this afternoon.
I think the other question, and we are no different at Stuller than every jewelry retailer in America, is you got to have a certain amount of profitability in order to be successful. You have to create added value and profits so that you can invest in research in order to improve. As we have all experienced in the jewelry industry, margins have become tighter and tighter.
It is the world of information. I often thought of how cool it would be to be able to predict the future. Today, there’s a lot of information out there and it’s really cool to have that kind of availability of data and information in order to help make decisions moving on in the future.
The negative side to that is it really creates a transparency on pricing, so the jeweler is getting beat up by the consumer. We naturally get beat up by our jewelers because they need to get the very best price, what is determined to be added value and what are they willing to pay for in the services that we offer with the product. I always get concerned, particularly being in the diamond industry, that margins have become very, very razor thin today.
We need to be sure that were not just making a living in the jewelry industry, but we are making enough money to invest in the future to ensure that our business model continues to be successful.
I think on the top of all the list of the questions that you guys should’ve asked is, “Where are we going on the profitability side of the jewelry industry?” That’s a tough question to answer. The other is you know, “How does Stuller or any other business achieve multi-generations of success to ensure that our lifetime work, in whatever we’re doing, will be continued the right way after we are gone.”
ROD WORLEY: Matt, thank you again for coming on the show today. If someone wanted more information about the various services we talked about, what’s the best way to contact your brand?
MATT STULLER: Well, I tell you, we have an incredible contact center here at Stuller. We probably have about 145, 150 folks in our contact center who are able to help customers with any question they have about the services we have to offer. Obviously, the website is an evolutionary process. The stuller.com is open 24 hours a day seven days a week and has got a lot of information about the products, services and the brands that we offer.
We have jewelers bench.com, which is a great bench jeweler’s website. The bench jeweler has lots of data and information there. We attend a lot of the trade shows, not as much to sell, but it’s really about talking to customers about how we can be an asset to their business.
We have been inviting customers to the bridge events we sponsor. We keep them small, about 100 jewelers, ten times a year. We like for them to come see what they have been able to help build here at Stuller in Lafayette, Louisiana. We talk about some of the new things, and the changing jewelry business model in the future. We have bench conferences for the jewelers to come to Lafayette. We have 200 to 300 at a time experience new tools, new equipment and be able to manufacture and do jewelry repair. Jewelry repair is a very profitable part of most jewelers today.
So we have a lot of different vehicles in order to be able to help with the customer and clarifications on the things that we can assist them with to make their business more successful.
ROD WORLEY: Once again, Matt, thank you for taking time with us today. We really appreciate it.
MATT STULLER: Rod, Doug, thank you for having me on. It is truly my pleasure. I had a great time with you guys this morning. You keep me charged me up. I love this campaign, Rod, that you’ve developed. I think it’s very informative and very helpful for jewelers. If there is anything that we can do here at Stuller to be able to help the jewelry trade, our industry be better, we are fully supportive of it. Thank you for doing what you’re doing for our jewelry industry.
ROD WORLEY: Well, that’s our show for today. I just want to remind you that all the resources and links for this episode can be found in our show notes at fourgrainer.com. You simply click on Inside The Jewelry Trade- Episode 003, Exclusive Interview with Matt Stuller, and everything is right there for you. We take all the notes. I want to thank my co-host, Doug Meadows of David Douglas Diamonds and Jewelry in Marietta, Georgia. for setting up the interview today and bringing some great questions.
Special thanks go out to Blaine Andra LeBlanc, the director of computer operations at Stuller Incorporated for setting up the audio at their headquarters in Lafayette, Louisiana. Also, thanks to Ms.Meinerz who is the executive assistant to Mr. Stuller for her help in getting all the many details ironed out.
Above all, a sincere thank you to Matt Stuller for being the Chairman of a thriving global business who still makes time to talk to a couple of jewelers in the trade. That alone speaks volumes to me about his commitment to us in the jewelry trade and should make an impact on you as well.
If you enjoy our podcast series, we could really use your help in getting the word out. This is how we grow and are encouraged to provide more valuable content for the jewelry trade. One of the things you could do is to give us a rating and review in iTunes, and let your friends know about the Show.
Also, if you’re not already subscribed to our free monthly newsletter, that should be on the top of your priority list.
I’m your host, Rod Worley, until next time,
Transcript Series: ITJT 003: Exclusive Conversation with Matt Stuller.
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