VALPARAISO | The Northwest ISBDC is honoring region entrepreneurs and champions at its 22nd annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards event on Nov. 6! The Class of 2013 includes Martin Binder Jeweler as the Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year. Martin Binder Jeweler President Robert J. Flude III answered the NW-ISBDC's questions on the business's past, future and why jewelry is in the family's genes.
Tell us about the basics of your business and the upcoming move and changes.
What started as a tiny watchmaking shop is now Valparaiso’s oldest and most trusted jeweler. We’re even more proud to say that Martin Binder Jeweler is still one hundred percent family owned and locally operated.
After graduating from horological school, my grandfather, Martin Binder, founded his watchmaking store in Hobart, Indiana in the late 1930’s. In 1940, he moved to Valparaiso, Indiana, where Martin’s reputation for honesty, and impeccable watchmaking, grew. When he hired, Mary, a sales girl to help with his growing business, he found that his new assistant was smart, and a quick learner—he also found that she was the love of his life. Martin and Mary married and together they added fine jewelry to their mix—not to mention three children—and expanded the downtown Valparaiso store. Soon, the jewelry store encompassed the city block.
Since then, three generations of the Binder family have helped Martin Binder Jeweler grow from the small watchmaking shop to Northwest Indiana’s destination for the finest diamonds, jewelry, Swiss-made timepieces, writing instruments, and gifts.
In the fall of 2013, Martin Binder Jeweler will relocate to a larger space on U.S. 30. There, our guests will enjoy a 75-space parking lot with easy access to highways. Nine thousand square feet will house expanded engagement services featuring brands such as Forevermark and Verragio as a part of our “Be Engaged” bridal experience. Guests will browse in our luxurious ROLEX boutique, two personal showrooms, a kids play area, and a PANDORA shop. The store will be luxurious, but relaxing and comfortable, a place where, while guests wait for their jewelry to wrapped in our famous gold paper, they can enjoy a refreshing beverage and watch the game in our customer lounge.
In this free-standing location, we’re building new workshops for more efficient repair services, and incorporating the latest technology in jewelry creation for state-of-the art custom design experience. We’re building in technological “cool” including free Wi-Fi, plasma displays, and in-store tablet browsing. Best of all, our tripled show space will finally let us bring our customers even more popular and affordable jewelry collections with top designers such as Alex and Ani, Armenta, Lagos, Bell & Ross, and much more.
Simply, it’s going to be a remarkable place—a terrific investment in our town while creating over two dozen jobs.
Why is family an important component to Martin Binder’s success?
You could say that our family tradition is our shared love of jewelry. The Binder family is large, and at one time we had over a half dozen family jewelers working as a team. My brother and sister, and my cousin have all worked at the store. We spent so much time there, that as children, my siblings and cousins did our homework in the small store’s back room, cleaned fingerprints from the showcases, and swept the front sidewalk. Only when we proved to our grandparents that we shared their famous hard-work ethic, were we permitted to show customers jewelry.
We are proud that for over 70 years, from far and near, our clients have shared a story while we gift wrapped their child’s first pearls, or the silver fairy box that guards their lost teeth. Some of those gifts were wrapped by my grandmother and grandfather, and by my Aunt Carol. Many of our customer’s watches were repaired by my uncle and partner, Martin John, who retired a few years ago—much to the chagrin of all the fish in Canada. Customers bring in scraps of paper with pencil scratching that somehow my mother, Jeanette Binder, turns into beautiful custom jewelry.
Truly, we are a family affair. And we love every minute of it.
I started greeting customers at a young age, and as a teenager, learned from my Uncle Martin to repair timepieces. Now, ever mindful of our family’s reputation, not only do I strive to maintain the integrity Martin Binder Jeweler, but I’ve committed to buying only the best quality jewelry and diamonds at only the best price. For example, our business model is “source to showcase”: I travel regularly to Asia and Europe to buy directly from jewelry manufacturers and diamond sightholders. We also search for and buy ethically sourced diamonds and other precious stones, and we promote jewelry designers who make their product in the U.S.A.
We have earned our reputation for treating our customers with truth in pricing, never mark up something to mark it down, and conduct business with honesty and integrity. We vow to continue our tradition of philanthropic giving, and to expand on the legacy of stewardship that we’ve created as a template for the next generations of our family. We will continue in our quest to be our town’s favorite jeweler, and be supporters of all that is good in Northwest Indiana.
Lastly, there is not a day that passes that I do not wonder what my grandparents would think of our progress, and I hope that they would be proud of the store we’ve built.
Why do you enjoy what you do?
It’s difficult to not love working with jewelry! I guess you could say jewelry is in our genes. Our business is located in an amazing community that is focused on building a better future for our children and their children. I enjoy helping our dedicated customers, some of whom have been with us since my grandfather helped them with their jewelry selections.
Also, I am continuously learning my craft. I am a Graduate Gemologist, G.G., and travel the country performing in-home appraisals for large estates, business magnates, and celebrities. I’ve experienced mining diamonds in West Africa, and I enjoy perusing the markets of far-away worlds to find amazing and beautiful pieces. Truly, waking up and coming to work every day is something I look forward to. It is a blessing to have a career that you enjoy.
What are your future goals?
Right now, our goal is to move into the new location and bring our customers the better services and jewelry collections that they deserve. One thing for certain is that our staff will continue to treat our clients with the Golden Rule: This is—and has always been—our mission. Most important, we promise the same amazing customer service that Northwest Indiana has enjoyed for over seven decades. We are excited for the future, and believe that our progressive business model will open the doors for more opportunity in coming years.
Martin Binder Jeweler
23 E. Lincolnway in Valparaiso
New location: 650 Morthland in Valparaiso
For more information on the E-Day Awards or to reserve tickets, visit www.edayleaders.com.