Center for Career Alternatives

Ben Bridge was given the Outstanding Community Service Award at the 30th Anniversary banquet of Center for Career Alternatives - a large job training and placement program aimed at minority communities in Seattle and Everett. Over 650 people attended the banquet including the mayor of Seattle and the Snohomish county executive.


Benny BearGoodwill Ambassador Benny Bear helped sell over 100 raffle tickets at the CCA event. Each raffled Benny Bear had a ticket and a special Ben Bridge gift certificate inside the zippered tummy pouch. Three winning ticket holders were awarded a beautiful piece of jewelry, donated by Ben Bridge Jeweler. This special Benny Bear raffle contributed over $6,000 for CCA.

 

The Chamber gives an auld-lang-syne tribute to its longest-standing members

by Kim Sklar-Fowler

As a new decade comes barreling upon us (can it really be 10 years since we were all celebrating the new millennium, backing up our computers in case of system failure and storing water for the Y2K “scare”?), the Greater Seattle Chamber would like to take a moment to reverse this forward momentum. That is, we’d like to stop and recognize all the member companies that have been with us for several decenniums.

So, without further ado, THANK YOU to all of our members that have been with us for 50 years or more!

Ben Bridge Jeweler - Joined 1947

60th Annual Veterans Day Memorial Celebration

November 11, 2009

Our Co-Counsel, Jon Bridge, was the keynote speaker at the 60th Annual Veterans Day Memorial Celebration in Seattle.


 

 

The Price is Right?

Tight times have firms thinking pricing
Market pressure must balance bottom-line

October 26, 2009
Written by: Breanne Coats (Business Examiner -Washington, South Sound Area)

Setting the right price on a product or service has never been easy for merchants and other business operators.

As the recession continues to squeeze them, more consumers are looking for reduced prices. These expectations put even more pressure on all businesses to make sure their prices are right.

Pricing is a universal issue that no industry can escape. Depending on the business, however, different factors must be calculated into the final number that shows up on a price tag.

In addition to the wholesale cost of an item or service, sellers often take into consideration the potential customers, competition, cash-flow and overhead costs. This can be a complicated process and experts are urging managers to be careful to avoid making rash decisions about their prices in this downturn.

“In general, I do not recommend cutting prices of products or services during an economic downturn,” said Celia Nightingale, director of the Small Business Development Center at South Puget Sound Community College. “As soon as you start cutting your costs, you start saying you are not worth as much. Changing your pricing now is going to set an expectation for (continued lower) pricing later.”

Of course, if a business can find ways to trim its labor costs or discovers more favorable ways to purchase stock in bulk, then sharing those savings with customers would be advisable, Nightingale added.

Overall, though, she believes that small business operators misunderstand how price cautious buyers who use their services or products really are. Most small business customers are not looking just for cheaper prices, but rather things like quality products, quick response time and personalized customer service.

“A small business can rarely compete effectively on a price basis,” Nightengale said. “I suggest working on ways to increase the value of your product or service.”

For those businesses wanting to offer clients added value in this economic climate, she suggests packaging a service or product with other things like an additional service, delivery, a warranty or a quicker turnaround time.

The best thing for a business to do before offering any price cut is to look closely at its financial records, Nightingale said.

“This is a time to have a solid handle on your numbers, so you can be very clear on where would you be doing yourself a favor (or) where you would be essentially paying people to buy your product or service,” she said.

As mentioned above, various industries handle pricing decisions differently. Following are examples of how various local businesses are playing the pricing strategy game.

Retail: Jewelry
Everyday as Perry Saueressig walks through Westfield Capital Mall, he is reminded of the games merchants play to grab a consumer’s attention. With just a quick scan of the Olympia mall, a shopper would see nearly a dozen signs announcing some kind of discount on products.

“They are trying to play the pricing game,” said Saueressig, a long-time retail store manager himself and a board member for the Washington Retail Association. “It’s been going on for a long time, but I think a lot of companies are pushing (pricing changes or sales) in front of the consumers more because they are desperate.”

Retail stores are usually among the most visible examples when it comes to pricing decisions. And it appears a person cannot visit any South Sound shopping center without seeing the “go-to” word for many retailers – Sale.

Normal, non-sale pricing of products by a retailer can either interest a potential customer or send that person away if the price point doesn’t match their expectation. But many stores are aiming to play psychological games with people, said this 30-year veteran of the retail jewelry trade, by marking their prices up and then discounting them.

“It’s not the percentage off, it’s the price you pay that counts,” Saueressig said.

He is a manager for the Ben Bridge chain of mall stores and likes that his company does not offer sale promotions. He said his customers can rest assured that the price on the tag is what they will be paying and, if they come back in a week the item will not be marked down or on sale.

“People are looking for someone they can trust,” he said. “We are in business to do business the honest way.”

Rather than cutting prices or announcing some extravagant sale, the Ben Bridge organization decided to offer more value to its customers. With a jewelry purchase, the company includes an appraisal, cleaning and inspection, a 90-day return and exchange period, and finally a one-year service maintenance warranty, except on diamonds which qualify for a lifetime warranty.

Though not a price-promotion proponent, the firm promotes its extra value offerings and also makes sure its window displays show items that fall into everyone’s price point, including pieces under $50. While Ben Bridge is promoting its more affordable items, those are not new to the store, Saueressig said.

Some economically troubled retailers have decided to eliminate their nicer lines of products and change their offerings to cheaper products, Saueressig said. But consumers are getting wise when it comes to jewelry and such shifts.

“Customers with the Internet are becoming very intelligent,” he said. “They will come in with more knowledge than they ever have. What we have to do is stay ahead of them in the knowledge game.”



JFC names Ed Bridge new chairman

October 1, 2009

New York--Jewelers for Children (JFC) has elected Ed Bridge, president of Ben Bridge Jeweler, as the organization's new chairman.

Bridge replaces Howard Sherwood, who concluded his two-year term on Sept. 30.

"It is an honor to be selected by my peers to lead this incredible organization," Bridge said in a media release. "Jewelers for Children brings the industry together in the service of so many worthwhile causes. I am excited to work with the board in expanding our support for children whose lives have been affected by illness, abuse or neglect."
  

Jewelers for Children was founded in 1999 by the U.S. jewelry industry with the mission of helping children in need. Since its inception, JFC has donated nearly $32 million to programs benefiting children.

For more information, visit the JFC's Web site, JewelersforChildren.org.


Seafair 2009

Our own Herb Bridge has been involved with Seattle’s Seafair since its inception in 1949, including a reign as King Neptune in 2001. For several years, he has also presented Miss Seafair with a diamond and 14K gold pendant. Herb is honored to be associated with Seafair. Click the link below to see an interview with him regarding Seafair.

Interview Part 1
Interview Part 2


Kitsap County Duck Race 2009, Silverdale Washington

Nearly 17,000 rubber ducks were set free into the Dyes Inlet to race on July 27th. The ducks are purchased and then let loose to race. The first 30 ducks to cross the finish line are awarded prizes, including one lucky winner of a diamond pendant from Ben Bridge Jeweler. The event was held by the Silverdale Rotary Club and raised $69,000 which will be donated as grant money to several agencies in the community.

2009 Diamonds in the Rough Classic

Jon and Bobbe Bridge were honored at the 12th Annual Diamonds in the Rough Golf Tournament.

The Bridges received the ‘I Care About Kids’ award recognizing their support of children.

Proceeds from the event go to ‘Strategies for Youth’, a program designed to instill self worth in children and motivate them to become leaders.

Ben Bridge Jeweler also donated diamond jewelry as prizes. We are very proud of Jon and Bobbe.
 

Member Spotlight: Ben Bridge Jeweler: A jewel of a family business

Written By: Daniel Brunell (Washington Business Magazine - Winter 2009)


The jingle sticks in your head: “Your personal jeweler, Ben Bridge.”
The advertisement has been a staple on Pacific Northwest airwaves for years. Yet, there is so much more to this company than a simple radio or TV spot. Ben Bridge Jeweler is one of the largest jewelry retailers in the Northwest. They’re so successful that they caught the attention of Omaha multi-billionaire Warren Buffett, who merged it with Berkshire Hathaway Inc., almost a decade ago.

Buffett, one of the world’s most accomplished investors, maintained the Bridge family management team to run the business. That decision alone explains Buffett’s success. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to become a part of what we believe to be the finest family of companies ever assembled under one corporate name,” said Ed Bridge, president of Ben Bridge Jeweler.

“Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, has demonstrated a legendary record of protecting the unique characteristics of individual businesses in a diverse portfolio of companies. We’re excited to be a part of it.”

Early years in downtown Seattle
The Ben Bridge story began in 1912 when Samuel Silverman opened a store in downtown Seattle. An immigrant watchmaker from Poland, Silverman started out as a watch, jewelry and optical shop. That tradition continues today with watchmakers in most of Ben Bridge’s stores.

In 1922, Samuel’s daughter, Sally, married Ben Bridge and he was brought into the family business. In 1927, Bridge bought out his father-in-law and renamed the business Ben Bridge Jeweler. Under the leadership of Ben’s sons, Herb and Bob, the company opened a second store in the early 1950s.

In 1968, Ben Bridge Jeweler expanded into Seattle’s Southcenter Mall, opening the first of its mall stores. In 1980, the company opened its first out-of-state location in Portland, Ore. This expansion has continued, with Ben Bridge opening three to four stores a year.

Today, there is hardly a major mall in the western United States without a Ben Bridge Jeweler. They operate 79 retail stores in 12 states including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Alaska, Minnesota and Hawaii. The company is managed by Ben’s grandsons, Ed (president) and Jon (vice chairman and general counsel), together with Ben’s sons Herb and Bob, who serve as co-chairmen.

A legacy of service
Yet there is more to the Bridge family than their business. The Bridge family has a long and storied legacy of service to both the community and the nation.

For example, at the local level both the Bridge family and Ben Bridge Jeweler are involved with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, the United Way Day of Caring, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In addition, they work with national organizations like the American Heart Association and community groups like Seattle Works. In November 2008, the Bridge family was honored for their philanthropy by the Washington chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Never content to simply write checks to organizations, the Bridge family gets personally involved. Nothing highlights this like their patriotic and civic commitment to the nation and the state. Founder Ben Bridge served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Both of his sons, Herb and Bob, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War. Herb remained in the Navy and Naval Reserve for 42 years, and became the highest-ranking Naval Reserve admiral in the country. Bob retired as a commander. Jon continued the family tradition and recently retired from the U.S. Navy Reserve’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps as a captain.

Jon’s wife, Bobbi, also served on the Washington Supreme Court for seven years and is currently the head of the Center for Children & Youth Justice, a nonprofit group funded by the MacArthur Foundation. This commitment to the community is something that permeates the family’s thinking and is even the first thing on the company’s credo: “We believe our company’s success is in direct proportion to the services we perform for our customers and our community.”

Giving back is essential
“It really has to do with what we feel is important, and that is giving back to the community. That is really essential,” said Jon, a longtime Association of Washington Business board member.

“Giving back to the community is a basic part of what we do in our business.” It’s also one of the reasons why they’re a part of AWB. “We believe that being a part of organizations like AWB is extremely important,” said Jon.

“While I will disagree with a lot of the positions, from a political and a business standpoint, that our business organizations often espouse … I feel that working together and being a part of that community makes us a better organization as a company and promotes the finest in a society that we all have to live in. That’s the real reason to join an organization like AWB.”



Mom finds surprise of her life in jewelry store window

By ERIKA CHAVEZ
The Orange County Register
Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ginger Barnett has meandered through the Brea Mall countless times, often slowing to gaze in store windows and admire the merchandise.

But on Saturday evening, she was flabbergasted to look in the window of Ben Bridge Jewelers and find her son's face staring back at her from a laptop computer screen.
 
Sue Levine, Store Manager, showing Ginger Barnett her new Rolex watch as her son Carl watches from the laptop. 

"That's my son!" she squealed to no one in particular, struggling to process how 33-year-old Carl Brown, currently working in Iraq, was waving hello from behind the glass.

Next to the computer was a Rolex watch. Next to the watch: a card that read "Happy 50th Birthday Mom."

With that, family members emerged from behind pillars and kiosks, and cameras started flashing. Barnett's birthday surprise had gone off without a hitch, and the Anaheim mother of three burst into happy tears as she was enveloped in bear hugs.

For Carl Brown, orchestrating the elaborate surprise was a way to participate in his mother's special day, even from 12,000 miles away.

A United States Army veteran and graduate of Anaheim High, Brown is at an undisclosed location in Iraq, working for the Marine Corps as a private contractor. There, he assists and trains troops in using and troubleshooting the technical systems they work with.

The exact nature and location of his work is classified; he will return to the United States in August, but Brown didn't want to miss his mother's 50th birthday.

"I left for the military at 18 to start life anew and make my own way," Brown said via e-mail. "But as I have come to learn, in the long run, you always come home. One thing will never change and that is, where mom is, home is."

It took the help of friends, family members and Ben Bridge staff to pull everything off. It was Barnett's friend Kathleen who lured her to the mall after a day of pampering. Sister Debra Eggeman brought the laptop and beamed Carl in via Skype, videoconferencing software. Store manager Sue Levine made sure the window display was perfect when Barnett came walking by.

Once she got over the initial shock, Barnett went inside the store to have a Web chat with her beloved eldest son.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you so much. It's just beautiful," she said breathlessly, holding her wrist up to the webcam so her son could get a glimpse.

Barnett, of Anaheim, recalled going to that same jewelry store with Carl the last time he was home and admiring the luxurious watches.

"In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would have a Rolex," she said.

Carl said he hopes the watch will become a family heirloom, handed down from generation to generation. But there's also symbolism behind the gift of a timepiece, he said.

"No matter how much time passes, there's always time for the ones you love," Carl said.
 


Ben Bridge Ring Saves Life

In April 2007, Mike from Richland, Washington was installing flooring in a new home. He was under the kitchen counter in the dishwasher space. The electrician had forgotten to turn off the power. Mike went to move the wiring aside and he got the shock of a lifetime. The current entered through his titanium and platinum wedding ring then cycled back out. He received a burnt circle around his finger and a small portion of the platinum has a new design that will always be a reminder of that day.

He's thankful to be here to tell the tale of his Ben Bridge lifesaving ring.
 


Southern Cal. 24K Club to Honor Herb Bridge

Herbert M. “Herb” Bridge of Ben Bridge Jewelers, Seattle, will receive the 24K Club of Southern California’s prestigious Excellence In Service Award. The award has been bestowed upon a deserving individual or individuals annually since 1998.

The event will be held Sept. 13 in the Crystal Ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
 
“On this 10th anniversary of the Excellent In Service Award, choosing honoree Herb Bridge was an easy choice,” said club president Julia Baroni, chief executive officer of Baroness Jewelers. “His lifetime of achievements is a true inspiration to us all.”

“Herb exemplifies the qualities we look for in an honoree,” added incoming president Donna M. Phelan. “He is a true leader and a visionary – in the jewelry industry, the Navy and civic service. Herb built a family jewelry store into a business even Warren Buffet admired. Promoting the highest ethical standards, he encouraged his associates to become educated in gemology, and was a driving force in building the American Gem Society.”

Bridge is best known in the industry for his leadership of Ben Bridge jewelers, although his jewelry experience is just one face of his interests and activities. His additional achievements include being a successful businessman, a naval officer in two wars as well as a Seattle civic leader and philanthropist known as, “Mr. Downtown.” He had a 41-year career in the Navy and Naval Reserve, eventually becoming a rear admiral. He and his brother, Robert, took over Ben Bridge Jewelers from their father, building it to a chain of more than 70 stores. Today, the company is a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. with Herb and Bob Bridge acting as co-chairmen.

JCK-Jewelers Circular Keystone, 8/12/2008


Shining Stars

Star Bulletin - Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Cancer Research Center gets $10,440

Ben Bridge Jeweler and Mikimoto Pearls donated $10,440 from jewelry sales to the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii to help continue its research, education and service to cancer patients. Both jewelry companies donated 20 percent from every sale of specially designed jewelry in the "Everything is Possible with Hope" collection for three months beginning in October 2007.

 


Corporate Responsibility: Companies & Careers that Make a Difference

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA - February 6, 2008 - Representatives from the several well-known companies discussed corporate and social responsibility and why it's such an important consideration both personally and for their companies.
The event, which drew more than 100 students, was part of UW Career Discovery Week.
 

The panel was comprised of Bev Hori, vice president of Ben Bridge Jeweler and a member of the Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices; Robert Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft; Sue Mecklenburg (MBA 1994), vice president of sustainable procurement practices at Starbucks; and Dr. David Brandling-Bennett, senior program officer in the Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



American Gem Society Recognition

Susan Jaime, manager of our South Coast Plaza, CA store, was recognized as a Fellow of the American Gem Society at the annual Conclave, held this year in Seattle, WA.

She and seven others were applauded by the American Gem Society for their contribution, commitment and service to their communities and the jewelry profession.

Congratulations Susan!
 


Talking with: Jon Bridge, Co-CEO and General Counsel, Ben Bridge Jeweler

Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle)
Friday, February 1, 2008

Ben Bridge Jeweler is one of the largest family-run jewelry chains in the state of Washington. The company's 78 stores stretch from California to Minnesota, and will number 80 by year's end -- one opening at Seattle's University Village in July and another in Spokane later in the year. Ben Bridge's start dates back to 1912 when watchmaker Sam Silverman opened his first store in downtown Seattle. Silverman sold to his son-in-law Ben Bridge in the 1920s and the business was passed down through the generations. Today at the helm with his cousin Ed Bridge, an accountant, is attorney Jon Bridge, co-CEO and general counsel. A community leader, he chairs the Alliance for Education and is vice chair of Evergreen Children's Association day care programs.
Jon Bridge is co-CEO and general counsel at Ben Bridge Jeweler
 

ON THE FAMILY BUSINESS: It's a big responsibility shepherding and growing the business. We have kept past traditions -- the name, the sales of watches, and our place in the community. But we're all about change as well. In fact my daughter Rebecca (Bridge), a registered jeweler, works for us now.

ON MILTARY SERVICE: I'm third generation Navy, a captain with nine years active duty and 22 in the reserve. I was a Navy JAG (Judge Advocate General's Corps) and they sent me to law school. I teach military law to ROTC midshipmen. My father, Herb Bridge, still heavily involved with the business, is a two-star admiral. My uncle Bob, a commander. And my grandfather was a Navy chief. Everything comes full circle.

ON CURRENT TRENDS: A significant portion of our diamonds are from the Northwest Territories in Canada. That Canadian stone is our own diamond brand called Ikuma, which, in Inuit, means "fire." We also have our own brand of Italian gold. The baby boom generation is our major clientele, with the children of the "boomers" not far behind. We have three generations of customers buying contemporaneously. Large watches for women are a big trend. Women's self-purchases are very big. Increasing numbers of women feel comfortable buying jewelry themselves, often for themselves. They definitely know what they like.

 



Common-sense mining reform protects nature, consumers

Copyright C 2008 The Seattle Times Company
Thursday, January 31, 2008

By Jon Bridge
Special to The Seattle Times

Jewelry symbolizes affection, love and commitment. Jewelry, and the metals mined to create it, should also embody environmental and social responsibility. As co-CEO of a family-run jewelry company, I want to be able to tell my customers that the precious metals we use are mined responsibly. No one wants to buy a "dirty gold" wedding ring or a "blood diamond" anniversary gift, and we don't want to sell them.
That's why my company and 26 other leading jewelers support the "golden rules" for responsible sourcing developed by nonprofit groups, including EARTHWORKS and Oxfam, and the retail jewelers trade association, Jewelers of America.
While an international dialogue between nongovernmental organizations, retailers, multinational mining companies and affected communities has begun to wrestle with how to apply the "golden rules" on a global basis, we have an opportunity to lead the way here at home.
Unfortunately, there's an obstacle blocking more-responsible mining in the United States - the badly outdated 1872 Mining Law, which affects hundreds of millions of acres of Western public lands. Intended to spur development of the West, the law is virtually the same today as it was when President Ulysses S. Grant signed it.
Nearly everyone agrees reform is needed. The reasons are compelling: The law contains no environmental provisions, it gives mining preferential treatment over other uses of our public lands, and it perpetuates a land giveaway at 1872 prices. In addition, mining companies can buy public lands for $2.50 to $5 an acre and they don't pay any royalty for the gold or silver. These giveaways have been temporarily suspended, but they remain part of the old law.
The net result is a loss of royalty dollars to our national treasury as well as polluted water and hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines across the West. Some of these mines are so contaminated with toxins that they pose an imminent threat to people or wildlife and end up as Superfund sites.
 

With metals prices skyrocketing, thousands of new mining claims are being staked on public lands. In Washington alone, claims increased 14 percent between 2003 and 2007, according to federal data compiled by the Environmental Working Group.
Here in the Evergreen State, there is a new proposal for an open-pit nickel and copper mine next to Mount St. Helens National Monument, which has downstream towns, including Kelso, worried. This same story is repeated around the West in places such as Boise, Tucson and Bristol Bay, Alaska, home of the world's largest wild sockeye salmon runs.
 

Jewelers support common-sense mining-law reforms. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a comprehensive bill late last year, and not a moment too soon. The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act, HR 2262, would fix many of the old law's worst failings by:

  • Empowering federal land managers to balance mining with other uses of our public lands, such as for clean water and places to hike, hunt and fish;
  • Giving local governments and tribes a voice in decisions about whether to site new mines near their communities;
  • Setting common-sense standards to protect clean water;
  • Protecting national parks, monuments, wild and scenic rivers, and roadless backcountry;
  • Ending the sale of public lands claimed for mining;
  • Providing for abandoned-mine cleanup with a reasonable royalty on the mining industry, which currently pays nothing. Cleanup will be expensive - as much as $50 billion - but would create jobs and restore our poisoned streams to health.

These are principles that the jewelry industry can get behind. Mining contributes to our business and the nation's economy in important ways. Now is the time to scrap the old law for a modern approach that upholds 21st-century Western values and benefits responsible mining companies. Our public lands and clean water are our most precious resources, not to be squandered by a law enacted before the light bulb was invented. Rather, they must be cherished and shared with our families.

As the U.S. Senate considers reform this year, I encourage lawmakers to keep the principles laid out in HR 2262 in mind as they move forward.

With jewelry retailers, hunters and anglers, local elected officials, tribes and conservationists across the West supporting reform, I hope that, soon, consumers can be assured that the gold in the rings and bracelets they purchase come from mines governed by a new law that puts water and communities first and assures the American public of a fair financial return for the mining of our natural resources.

Jon Bridge is the co-CEO of Ben Bridge Jeweler, a 78-store chain headquartered in Seattle.

For five generations, Ben Bridge has been committed to offering the finest jewelry and unsurpassed personal service at the best value.

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