Entrepreneur SEEN

A Family Affair

October 31, 2015

Three generations in the jewelry business are working together.

By Julie Baumkel

Jeff, Gary and David Wachler grew up in the jewelry business. While each of them represents a different generation of jewelers, this grandfather-son-grandson trio has created a potent “secret to success,” harnessing the strengths of each generation in their downtown Birmingham jewelry store, the Wachler Estate Collection.

Jeff, 88, devotes his years of experience to evaluating the estate pieces for which Wachler Estate Collection is known. Gary, 60, couples his laid-back people skills with those of his business partner and wife, Susan, to connect with customers, friends and community. And, David, 23, augments his family’s strong suits with his global social media connections, youthful energy and growing business expertise.

Some say it is simply a match made in heaven.

“I am a jewelry person,” says Max Broock Realtor Edee Franklin, 68, of Huntington Woods and a regular customer of the Wachler Estate Collection. “For example, right now I am wearing four necklaces and an anklet I purchased from them. They also have gorgeous antique jewelry. After my 94-year-old grandmother died, I took one of her pieces to Wachler. My sister-in-law kept the diamond and made a necklace and Wachler helped me find a gorgeous stone to put in the ring so that we both had a nice piece that reminded us of her.”

Franklin can’t say enough good things about the store and its owners.

“I have purchased jewelry from many places, but I have sent so many people there. I get so many compliments on their jewelry,” Franklin says.

Moreover, “I have complete confidence that anyone I send there will be treated like family. Whether it’s getting a fair price for estate pieces, having new pieces made or just choosing from their gorgeous selection, they do it all. And they really support their customers, their fellow business owners and their community.”

It is a reputation that Jeff Wachler and family earned over time.

Jeff, his father and his brother started in business in Downtown Detroit making jewelry for jewelry stores. He was 9 when he began helping in the family business. That business was sold when his father and his brother returned home from World War II. By 1950, the business relocated to Southfield and began selling jewelry direct to customers.

Jeff soon married his lovely wife and they had four sons, Link, Andrew, Gary and Glenn. The business later moved to Birmingham, employing immediate and extended family members. Jeff retired for a short while and enjoyed time with his wife, children and their spouses, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

He became a widower three years ago, around the time his son, Gary, and his wife, Susan, were laying the groundwork for the Wachler Estate Collection.

It seemed time to go back to work.

“I am happy to work and I feel good enough to work, so I do,” Jeff says. He typically spends around 24 hours a week appraising jewelry for the store at 162 N. Old Woodward.

“I really grew up around the jewelry business,” David says. “I’ve always had a passion for it. However, I think my youthful vision sees opportunities where my grandfather and parents might not. That works two ways also. They see things I might not.”

David found he had a knack for selling jewelry — especially signed pieces and fine new and vintage watches including Rolex, Patek Phillippe and Vacheron.

“It’s what I like to wear,” he says. He found he also enjoyed educating his generation, the millennials, about the value that certain pieces of jewelry retain over time.

David, who was instrumental in creating the business’s social media presence globally, now does a larger and larger part of the family’s business online — often with clientele he has befriended through sales and acquisitions of one-of-a-kind pieces but whom he has never met in person. Facebook and Instagram are two strong sources of new business.

“We now have clients in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Abu Dhabi, Israel and all over the United States,” he says. “I also educate my customers that buying estate jewelry is a great way to save.”

Gary says, “I am always surprised at how well we all work together.” He and Susan have been partners in life and business for 31 years. “This business we created just seems to have a formula that works for it. We want everyone to be happy in the transaction. We always make sure everyone is treated the way we want to be treated.”

Susan says a vitally important part of their business is giving back to those less fortunate.

“Gary and his mom started a charity to comfort sick children with stuffed bears through
ComfortBearsforKids.org, and we’ve provided hundreds of bears to children in local hospitals,” she says. “Our ultimate goal is to create a Wachler Foundation to do charitable work within the larger community.” NS

Wachler Estate Collection
162 N. Old Woodward Ave, Birmingham
(248) 540-4500, www.wachlerestate.com.

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