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Josephs joines prestigious gem-selling society


Leading Jewelers of the World emphasizes class, quality and customer service.

S. Joseph and Sons Inc., more commonly known as Josephs Jewelers, has long been considered one of Iowa’s premier jewelry companies. This was confirmed April 9 when the Joseph family business was inducted into the prestigious Leading Jewelers of the World.

Leading Jewelers of the World, founded in 2001, has quickly grown in membership and reputation. The group, dedicated to raising the standards for jewelers and promoting excellence in the industry, plans to limit its membership to 150 companies in the United States and 50 abroad. The organization scrupulously examines each candidate’s advertising, community involvement, products and customer service. Only one company per designated market, in Josephs’ case a 60-mile radius of Des Moines, can make the cut.

“They were looking for a store, not to make better, but to hone,” said John Joseph, vice president.

“Stores that are constantly advertising they have the lowest prices in town, or huge discounts would never fly,” said Toby Joseph, president. “[Leading Jewelers] came to us and asked us to join. They looked at the store, and the quality of the advertising   campaigns, the salespeople and the merchandise.”

Leading Jewelers also sent secret shoppers to the stores so they could experience and rate how Josephs treats its customers. Even now, representatives of Leading Jewelers will periodically send shoppers to ensure that Josephs is maintaining its high standards of service.

“It doesn’t intimidate me in the least,” said Shelly Weatherby, a jewelry buyer for Josephs. “Most of our customers in the downtown office are regular customers whom we see time and again. When I see an atypical Josephs customer — someone I don’t recognize — I immediately want to turn them into a Josephs customer. I want them to leave awed by our service, saying ‘I can’t believe I was treated like that, when I just went in for a new watch battery.'”

Weatherby says Josephs is “picky about quality and stringent on ethics.” She admits that other jewelers can perhaps say the same, but membership in Leading Jewelers of the World has validated her belief that Josephs Jewelers is a cut above. She is quick to point out the ways in which her company reaches out to the community. Toby and John Joseph support the Rotary Club, Taylor House and the Kiwanis. The stores throw an annual holiday party for the residents of the Dallas County Care Facility, and workers in the Merle Hay Mall store pick a different event, such as a walkathon, to support each month.

“It felt like we were being rewarded for the ways we go the extra mile,” Weatherby said.

Going the extra mile is essential, according to Toby Joseph. He says there are misconceptions about the ease of walking into an established family business and running it.

“A lot of people think it’s easy to take over a business that has been in the family for four generations, but standards have been set,” he said. “You have an obligation to maintain those standards.”

Solomon Joseph, a German immigrant, started S. Joseph and Sons in 1871 at the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets. The store moved to its present downtown location, 320 Sixth Ave., in 1924 and has since added stores in Merle Hay and Valley West malls.

John and Toby Joseph say their company’s inclusion in Leading Jewelers of the World has helped to ensure a consistent level of service among all three stores. Textbooks on maintaining excellence in jewelry stores are distributed to all stores in the association. Managers hold weekly meetings with all employees to discuss the different topics in the books.

“It was a reminder that there is always more to learn,” Weatherby said. “We just want to get better and better and better.”

“Our employees desire more information,” said John Joseph. “They want to excel, and to have the expectations for them clearly defined.”

“We just want to improve on our 132-year history with a vibrant, exciting store focused on personal relationships and value,” Toby Joseph said.  

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