Professional Jeweler Archive: Profits from Electronic Productivity

September 2001

Professional Bench/Five Steps to Profit


Profits from Electronic Productivity

A look at tack and pulse arc welding


Stephen Hermanson, a JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler known to friends as Steece, is part of a family jewelry-making tradition. His father and grandfather were watchmakers and jewelers; Steece focuses solely on being a bench jeweler.

Hermanson’s first industry job was as a polisher for Phares Chatham at a trade shop in Columbia, SC. He then studied design and manufacturing in a full-time eight-week jewelry-making program. He attained other skills by attending traveling bench classes presented by the Gemological institute of America. Hermanson’s best source of knowledge comes from the challenge and subsequent self-study required to provide the intricate high-end designs co-owner Daniel Chandler sells on a routine basis.

Hermanson lives in Sumter, SC. He and his wife have six children, and he is an avid reader and active with his church. Hermanson is a natural-born teacher, say those who work with him. He has given demonstrations at national industry events such as JA Masters in Motion in New York City and Tucson, AZ. He also provided valuable contributions to the Jewelers of America/Platinum Guild Platinum International “Platinum Fabrication” video. Here is how he uses pricing, process, promotion, productivity and professionalism to make a difference.

Pricing

The entire staff at Galloway & Moseley takes in jewelry for repair, consulting the bench staff for guidance and accurate estimates on complicated jobs. Rather than use price charts, they estimate all incoming work based on the calculated cost of labor, material and mark-up unique to the individual piece. Custom orders account for 50% of the shop’s volume.

Process

Because of the volume of work, Galloway & Moseley has a full-time shop facilitator who logs in and out all repair work, assigns jobs to the three bench jewelers and ensures all jobs are completed by the due dates and that they meet the store’s quality standards. The facilitator calls customers once the work is completed.

Promotion

The sales professionals at Galloway & Moseley regularly refer to the bench staff and their credentials. Pride in the shop’s personnel is apparent during sales consultations, say the owners, and it pays big dividends. Galloway & Moseley also devote a large portion of their advertising budget to cable TV promotions, most of which feature the shop and its bench jewelers.

Productivity

Each bench worker focuses on repairing one piece of jewelry at a time with the exception of the final step – polishing, where multiple pieces can be handled at the same time thanks to a process developed by Phares Chatham, Hermanson’s first employer and now a jewelry repair legend at Galloway & Moseley. See photo and caption below for an explanation.

Hipkins works on light custom orders and assembly pieces; Hermanson works on other custom orders, design and manufacturing for customers and occasionally special pieces for inventory. Galloway & Moseley’s greatest contribution to production comes from tacking and fixturing, a term applied to the use of tack and pulse-arc welders for temporary placement of material before soldering and for final placement. Chatham has an ABI Tack I at his bench, Hipkins a Tack II and Hermanson a Tack II and a Tack III pulse-arc welder. Here are a few examples of how they are used:

Professionalism

Bench jewelers at Galloway & Moseley wear professional attire because they’re often called to the sales floor. Each one is certified or is becoming certified. Others in the store have professional certification in their area also. This collective knowledge, team effort and professionalism propels the business forward, say the owners.

Steece Hermanson

Daniel Chandler (right) and Britton Moseley are partners in Galloway & Moseley, where Hermanson is shop manager. They say Steece’s role in their operation is “monumental” and that his talent allows them to make high-quality jewelry on the premises – an important feature to their customers. They also say his ability to communicate and train other staff members is invaluable.
Tim Hipkins, a JA Certified Senior Bench Jeweler, says he is grateful for the opportunity to work with Steece Hermanson. “I could not consider advancing with my skills without Steece’s help,” says Hipkins, who is working toward his master level bench certification. “In the long run, his guidance has enhanced my level of ability and allowed me to provide more to our store’s bottom line.”
Linda Chatham sorts all jobs and facilitates the entire repair and custom-order process for the shop and service department. All information is written by hand using generic take-in terminology on a job envelope designed by the store and logged into and out of Jewelry Shop Keeper. Having three bench jewelers allows the staff to take in rush jobs to accommodate valued customers’ needs.
Phares Chatham made this revolving revolution years ago when sizing rings accounted for much of his work. He performs the preliminary steps, submerges the piece in a mixture of boric acid and denatured alcohol then places each one in cross-locking tweezers until the spindle is full. “Soldering is a snap,” says Chatham.
Hipkins assembles a remount by tack-welding heads into place, tacking the solder at each solder junction and then soldering without the need for fancy third hands or other holding devices.
Hermanson tack-welded new prongs along one side of a ring with the Tack II. Here he picks up a bead of solder with the vacuum attachment and tacks it into place (red arrow) to prepare for soldering.
Hermanson uses the Tack II to attach the tongue into position.
Then he uses the Tack III to permanently weld it in position without it losing its temper.

By Mark B. Mann, Director of Trade Programs, Jewelers of America; Featuring Stephen Hermanson, JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler,™ Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

For information about JA Bench Jeweler Certification, contact JA at (800) 223-0673 or www.jewelers.org. For questions on Steece Hermanson, Galloway & Moseley or ABI tack welders, call Hermanson at (803) 775-1209.


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications