b'DAN AND HOPE WIXON He chanced into it when, upon returning from fighting in theDan concludes: You have to dream, and you have to follow that Vietnam War, he began selling antiques in the Twin Cities area.vison. You have to execute.I got involved with jewelry, learned about that, and started with a ring or two, while hauling old oak dressers around. I finally de- THE BUSINESS OF BUILDING A TEAMcided that stuff was too heavy and headed full time into the jewelryAs Wixon Jewelers transformed and grew over the decadesbusiness, he explains. acquiring watch brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre Dan and Hope met at a little bar in New Prague, Minnesota, andand Panerai; selling large diamonds; and stocking colored gemstones Hope came to work at Wixon Jewelers, at first just helping gift wrapthe store, naturally, added employees. and set up displays. Learning the Wixon Jewelers sales process is a three-year She says, I was actually going to be a lawyer and he convinced melearning curve, say Dan and Hope, and they pride themselves on law was not the happy alternative and that jewelry was far happier. building a team that sticks around. The partnership stuck. The two married and today have twoDans very first employee from 1988, for example, still works children, a daughter and son who are twins.at the store. Its not uncommon for team members to have 10- or 15-years tenure. Employees with less time at Wixon Jewelers are IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN BE IT likely in newly created positions. The Wixons say their most important professional achievementDesigner Joshua Javaheri, of Joshua J, has witnessed the Wixons is the businesss growth from a couple of showcases to a store thatdedication to their staff.delivers the highest quality fine jewelry services to their clients.Its impressive to see what they have done to cultivate a team that They wouldnt have progressed to where they are now, though, ifsupports their vision and is just as enthusiastic about it as the owners they hadnt set out with a specific purpose and goals in mind.are. It says a lot about Dan Thats my only talent: I can see 10 years out, Dan jokes. I thinkJewelers have toand Hopes leadership DAN \x1b HOPE WIXON weve always been good at spotting what our next niche should be. get past worryingstyle, he says.The biggest moments of growth were when we made a visibleNagpal of Omi Gems move to go for these high-end watches and when we visibly wentabout the smalladds, Not only do the away from selling things as cheaply as possible to going after a high- Wixons learn as much as end clientele, selling large diamonds, and carrying a lot of color.things. Peoplethey can about the product Those were all movesthat put us in a special place, doing thingsstop themselvesand gemstones, but they other jewelers didnt. We were very niche-oriented, and we still are. also take the time to edu-Seeing and addressing gaps in the market is, arguably, another offrom becomingcate their staff. the Wixons talents, like identifying the need for a jewelry store ingreat. Dan and Hope adhere their area that understood and stocked fine colored gemstones. to a hiring philosophy We decided early on to be a force in color because other jewelersDan Wixon thats worked for them: werent, Dan explains. Were passionate about color. Were in Tuc- Jewelry can be taught, but son every year and do a big [business] with color and are very proudclienteling skills cannot. of those achievements. You either have them, or you dont. Omi Gems Niveet Nagpal, who first met the Wixons in TucsonWe learned you have to hire by personality because thats not nearly 20 years ago, says their passion for gems is apparent. something youre going to change, Hope says. Most of the time, He praised the Wixons eye for selecting stones, which is no smallwhen we hire someone, we have to retrain them to our philosophy. compliment coming from a gem expert like Nagpal.If its a great personality who fits our mold, then we can teach or They have great taste in jewelry and especially in colored stones.train them on almost anything.They are always focused on quality and beauty above all else,Over the years, our philosophy has become: Whichever person he says. They have a real passion for what they do, and it showswe can hire who will take the best possible care of our clientsthrough every aspect of their business.thats the one we want, says Dan.Self-belief is a key aspect of the Wixons success, which sets themWe have a group of people who do exactly that. Theyre clientel-apart from their competition.ing experts so we have a happy client base. Im very proud of that.Jewelers have to get past worrying about the small things, DanTaking the business digital has made hiring the right people explains. They stop themselves from becoming great. If you mire your- essential since, the business changes more in two years than it ever self in your own shop fixing chains for the rest of your life, thats exactlyused to in 10, according to Dan. where your store is going to stop and thats what its going to be. Today, Wixon Jewelers has a three-person marketing team and a Hope adds, If you think you cant sell more than a 1-carat diamondback-of-house team to handle online orders and shipping.because blah blah blah, then youre always going to be a 1-caratYou used to be able to get away with having a jeweler and a sales staff diamond store. and now there are so many more avenues you have to cover, says Hope. You have to stock those 2- and 3-carat diamonds because if youThe Wixons hold daily meetings to keep their staff on the same page dont have them, you wont sell them, Dan continues. and do a lot of reading and studying to keep up with the latest retail news. You have to try it, says Hope. Everyone has an excuse aboutHaving employees from different generations also helps the store why they cant. stay tuned in to the latest way retailers are connecting with clients. Continued on page 13NATIONAL JEWELER 11'