We caught up with this year’s Family Owned Business Excellence Award honoree to see how the Greater Philadelphia business community has contributed to their success. Check out what Rich Goldberg, President, Safian & Rudolph Jewelers has to say as we highlight one of the excellent small businesses driving the Greater Philadelphia region. Join us as we honor this year’s winners at the 37th Annual Excellence Awards on Thursday, November 21.
Where did the idea for your business come from? Describe the moment that you decided to go into business for yourself.
Safian & Rudolph Jewelers was established in 1952. After the dust of World War II had settled, two close friends, Manny Safian (my grandfather) and Ray Rudolph, came together to open up a retail establishment on Jewelers’ Row. At first, their small shop was located in a basement on Sansom Street where they sold luxury goods such as crystal, silverware, suitcases, and electric shavers. But over the years, they became more jewelry-oriented. When the opportunity arose, they reopened on street level and finally had the storefront they strived for. Over the next few decades, Safian and Rudolph refined their services and product line and began to specialize in diamonds and fine jewelry. As the business continued to grow, they eventually moved to the corner of 7th & Sansom Sreets and opened the store of their dreams. To this day, Safian & Rudolph Jewelers continues to operate from this location and now in our third generation, we pride ourselves on having the finest quality diamonds, jewelry, custom design, reputation, and the most devoted customers around!
What is your business philosophy and how is it unique?
Relationships are everything! We offer an experience that keeps families coming back for multiple generations. The very nature of our product also lends to our philosophy of creating products that last through generations and often carry stories of their own. Turning grandma’s antique brooch into a new custom pendant or resetting the diamond that mom also wore on her wedding day brings a level of emotion and connection rarely found in most businesses. We live for this stuff!
What is the biggest challenge in owning/running a business in the region? How do you deal with the challenges?
Safian & Rudolph Jewelers is located on the corner of the oldest Diamond District in America. Jewelers’ Row once was the main destination for diamonds and jewelry but over the last few decades competition has increased significantly from all different directions. Thinking bigger picture than just Safian & Rudolph, about two years ago, I led an effort to unite the next generation of business owners on Jewelers’ Row. My vision: to unite the Association by opening up to businesses of all types within our district and holding events to physically draw more traffic to our street. Since then, I’ve been elected President of the Jewelers’ Row District and rebranded our Association into a business community. We’ve held multiple large-scale events, have a new website, a much stronger social media presence, and are attracting more business for everyone in our neighborhood.
How has the Greater Philadelphia business community impacted your success?
As a longtime contributor to the Greater Philadelphia business community, we understand that no business can stand alone. First, our immediate community of Jewelers’ Row is truly special and we look out for one another. But in the larger community as well, there is so much to learn from other businesses. For example, years ago, my father took part in the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s sponsored roundtables that brought together other small businesses to openly discuss mutual issues and concerns. This was extremely helpful to him in creating a successful transition from second to third generation. Locally, we are also involved in a variety of other business organizations. I was accepted into (and completed) the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program which was an eye-opening experience and great opportunity to connect with other business owners in our region. We are also members of Business Clubs America, brought to this city by Ron Jaworski and run by his daughter Joleen. It is a group of nearly 100 local businesses, in all different industries, focused on building relationship between decision makers.
Others will be looking to you for advice about starting and/or operating a business here. What are your top 3 tips?
- Be genuine. If you are trying to create a culture that is not true to who you are, it will not be sustainable. Hiring people who you believe will mesh with your personality and fellow employees will help to create a family-like atmosphere that will come through to your clients and community.
- Listen to your customers and understand their wants and needs. Don’t just try to sell what you have but provide exceptional customer service by creating what they want!
- Get involved! Take leadership roles outside of your business and be part of your community. Whether through a charity, business group, or private club, you must expand your network and connect with others. This will help create awareness for your business and brand while building relationships that will prove to be immeasurable.
What does it mean to you personally and/or to your business to be named an Excellence Award winner?
It is truly an honor to be recognized as an Excellence Award winner. As a young child, I knew my grandfather dedicated the better part of his life to creating a business that became a household name. Growing up, my father grew Safian & Rudolph and helped to solidify our standing as one of Philadelphia’s most reputable businesses. Now, 67 years later, I continue to embrace our traditions and culture while modernizing the business to stay relevant and attractive to a whole new generation. Receiving this award honors so many years of hard work and dedication not just for my family and staff but to the community we serve.
Where do you see your business in 10 years?
We love our location at the Gateway of Jewelers’ Row, right on the corner of the Oldest Diamond District in America. As for our actual business, I plan to continue growing our custom design offerings. We currently embrace the latest technology and can virtually custom design any piece of jewelry our customers want. Through computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, we create digital images to first review with customers then print 3D samples of the jewelry for them to physically hold. At this stage, we can still make any adjustments requested. Finally, we cast in the precious metal of their choosing and create a stunning piece of jewelry that is truly one-of-a-kind. I want to continue expanding our level of customization to give each customer an even more special and memorable experience.
What benefits/challenges come along with being a third-generation business? Do you have plans for future generations?
Being a third-generation business is very different than just starting your own business because you must transition from one person to the next while embracing multiple generations of procedures and traditions. While there is always room for change and improvement, it’s a balancing act to stay true to your history while changing to stay relevant.
Conversely, a great benefit that comes with having a family business is a deep understanding of the culture, people, and products just from being around it your entire life. I always felt like the business was part of me and keeping the legacy alive is very rewarding. My father and I have always had a great and successful relationship because he has always been open to new ideas and changes, while I strive to absorb and learn as much as possible from his experience. I am now a father and my three-year-old daughter Julia already loves jewelry. Our personalities are a lot alike and I think she would make an excellent fourth-generation owner one day. My seven-month-old boy Ben still has to prove himself.
Get your tickets to help celebrate Safian & Rudolph as this year’s Family-Owned Business Excellence Awards honoree.
Thursday, November 21
5:30 – 9:00 p.m.