Professional Jeweler Archive: Greased Lightning

December 2002

Feature


Greased Lightning

Efficiency is one thing. Delivering customer satisfaction is another. Stuller does both seamlessly


When you place an order with Stuller, dozens of hands are involved in fulfilling it, from creating, forging and polishing to transporting, checking, double-checking, labeling, billing and carefully packing your product. These men and women coddle every order along its trajectory to the mailing department, regardless of its size or price. The FedEx box gets shipped the same day, even if you ordered it at 5 p.m. your time.

If you consider the company’s 50,000-strong customer base and its 6,500-7,000 daily orders, getting the item to you just in time is a true challenge. “When we get an order from a jeweler, we know the item is likely presold,” says Steve MacDiarmid, director of public relations and trade shows at the Lafayette, LA, company. “So we need to help jewelers do their job by getting the product to them quickly.”

It’s precisely because of this philosophy that tens of thousands of items are shipped from Stuller facilities on a daily basis. Employees at Stuller (some 1,600 of them at the Lafayette headquarters alone) appear to be on the same track, constantly thinking about how to make products better, how to get them to customers faster and how to streamline their own workflow. It works because the philosophy is nurtured, developed and implemented from the top leadership on down.

Seeds of Success

Chairman and CEO Matthew G. Stuller’s vision is at the heart of the company’s success. “We will do anything to get orders to our customers in time because they depend on us,” Stuller says. “Yes, Stuller is about product, but more than that it is about service. We all consider ourselves servants to the trade.”

Stuller says he took his cue to build a business from witnessing the opposite extreme. Working for a jeweler more than 30 years ago, he tried to provide excellent delivery on repairs. “I couldn’t do it because the findings business was so unreliable,” he recalls. Lack of service, scarcity of findings, unreliable vendors and shoddy quality gave him a bird’s-eye view of what the jewelry industry needed.

When he started his own business, he gathered findings from suppliers and went on the road trying to service individual jewelers’ needs. “But to really be in control of your destiny, you have to have the ability to control outflow and delivery,” he says. Some 30 years ago Stuller began to manufacture what jewelers needed and to develop the “can-do” culture that permeates the company’s 600,000 sq.-ft. headquarters and its work force.

Stuller says it succeeds in getting retailers what they need just in time for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Associates. The company views employees as its greatest assets. It continually educates its predominantly young work force and provides associates with the tools to do their jobs correctly.
  • Guiding Vision. All employees are versed in the company’s vision: Never let a customer down. Understand the customer. Get customers what they need, when they need it.
  • Company Site. Stuller has a purpose-built building housing an order center, manufacturing facilities, inventory storage and distribution, allowing it to deliver on its same-day shipping commitment, control quality through numerous checks and control costs through efficiency.
  • Strategic Alliances. Stuller has a joint-venture relationship with FedEx, plus manufacturing and distribution facilities in Ramat Gan, Israel, and Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Communication with Customers. Nearly a dozen catalogs, clearly illustrated and organized, go out to customers regularly, including Mountings, Finished Jewelry, Diamonds and Gemstones, Findings, Religious and Family Jewelry, Packaging & Display and Tools. The company also has an efficient, secure Web site with online catalog ordering.

• Stuller, Lafayette, LA; (800) 877 7777, fax (800) 444-4741, www.stuller.com.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Finished orders come together as Chairman and CEO Matt Stuller (center) oversees a final check before the order is prepared for FedEx packaging. Photo by Robert Weldon.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications