Retailer Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees: Dror and Helene Zadok

IndependentsMay 15, 2018

Retailer Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees: Dror and Helene Zadok

The Houston jewelers put customer service, integrity and honesty before the sale.

Helene and Dror Zadok started Zadok Jewelers in Houston, Texas, in 1976, and have since grown it to be 10 times its original size.

Houston--It’s amazing when you think about it: What was supposed to be a temporary visit to the United States led to the start of a jewelry store that put roots down, expanded, and is still a part of its community four decades later.

That’s how it was for Dror and Helene Zadok, and their store, Zadok Jewelers. The couple is being honored this year as the inductees into National Jeweler’s Retailer Hall of Fame in the Single-Store Independent category.

The couple had been living in Israel. The Yom Kippur War had Helene’s mother worrying about her daughter and her family. So to ease her mind, Dror, Helene and their son (the first of three) went to Houston, where they had family, and expected to be there just a few years.

Because Dror’s family had been in the jewelry business for generations, the twosome went with what was familiar and opened Zadok Jewelers in 1976.

Though Helene says they “started out with more guts than brains,” clearly they had some idea what they were doing.

The store found itself in the black in the first year. Combine good results with a Houston community that was welcoming, and the Zadok family found it hard to leave.

A Family Affair
Today, Zadok Jewelers is still in its original location. It started out at approximately 1,200 square feet, but since has undergone a number of expansions and now spreads out more than 12,000 square feet.

The decision to expand the store rather than open additional locations was a conscious, thought-out one, Helene tells National Jeweler.

“We prefer it this way,” she says. “We’re full service. It’s all under one roof.”

Not to mention, they wanted to keep the entire family in one location. Their team also now includes their three sons, Jonathan, Segev and Gilad.

They come by it naturally.

The Zadoks’ sons now represent the seventh generation in jewelry, an immense source of pride for them. In fact, for Dror, the conversation around his induction into the Hall of Fame couldn’t be complete without the mention of his family, and especially his wife.

“It’s very important to mention that without my wife, I would not … be where I am today. She’s my co-everything. She was right next to me.”

Dror and Helene represent the “top of the line” when it comes to integrity and family values, says JB Star founder and designer Rafael Fouzailoff,
who has known the two for three decades.

“The proof is in the pudding. They have raised these amazing boys. The business represents itself so well.”

Zadok is a humble man, according to those who work with him. It shows not only in the way he speaks, but also in how he interacts with people.

“Even though he’s the owner of the store, he’s always respectful,” Fouzailoff says. “He’s always dressed professionally. And he doesn’t look down on anybody.”

He continues, “I have a deep appreciation of his ethics. The way he approaches people, whether they are vendors or not, is with total respect.”

Her husband was brought up to be humble and modest, Helene notes, and lives by the idea that even in difficult circumstances, one has to behave honorably.
“We’ve branded the family because you can’t reproduce us. Even though we might have many brands, we are who we are.” -- Helene Zadok
This resonates in Dror’s personal mantra: always be honest. If someone comes into the store with a piece they bought elsewhere and asks if it is a good value, he makes it a point to always tell the truth.

“He knows that you don’t disparage something just because it wasn’t purchased in our store, because you want that person to realize you’re going to be honest no matter what,” Helene says.

For anyone who talks to family and friends about Helene, it’s more than clear that she shares the same set of standards and ethics. But it’s especially apparent when talking to her about their sons.

“We are so proud that when we go to trade shows, people in the industry come up to us and tell us how wonderful it is to work with our sons, how respectful they are, how quietly knowledgeable they are,” she says. “There’s no arrogance, no sense of entitlement, and they have integrity. And that’s how we want our image to be.”

The two make the perfect combination to lead the store, Fouzailoff says, in both their work ethics and their values.

Rina Limor agrees, noting that Dror’s polite and soothing demeanor with customers and clients complements Helene’s incredible ability to coordinate and organize a large team and run the business according to the strictest standards.

But for the New York-based jewelry designer, it goes beyond this. For her, the Zadoks are “like family,” which seems to be a common sentiment when conversations about the store’s relationships with its vendors come up.

“It’s so great to work with people you know so well inside and out,” she says. “They are wonderful people.”

The Zadok family has been in the jewelry business for generations, with Dror representing the sixth and his sons, the seventh. Pictured here from left to right: Jonathan, Gilad, Helene, Dror and Segev Zadok.

For about 20 years, Limor has attended the Christmas event the store holds for customers, and she says the Zadoks always go above and beyond for her.

“They always take care of my accommodations. But it’s more than that,” she says. “They worry about my lunches, my dinners, everything.”

Their sense of community, customer service and especially family is so strong, in fact, that Helene believes it’s what separates them from other stores.

“We’ve branded the family because you can’t reproduce us. Even though we might have many brands, we are who we are.”

The ‘Unofficial Mayor’
The Zadoks’ treatment of customers is the same as their treatment of vendors: with respect, and like family.

They’ve put the creation of an unforgettable shopping experience for their customers, and the best customer service, at the top of the priority list for Zadok Jewelers.

“This is how we’ve stayed here all these years. Hundreds, literally hundreds, of stores have closed,” Dror says, referring to the number of independent jewelers who have gone out of business in recent years. “And thankfully we’re still here. We have generations of customers. We have three or four generations coming in.”
“We are so proud that when we go to trade shows, people in the industry come up to us and tell us how wonderful it is to work with our sons, how respectful they are, how quietly knowledgeable they are. There’s no arrogance, no sense of entitlement, and they have integrity. And that’s how we want our image to be.” -- Helene Zadok
The store’s slogan is: “You’re only a stranger once at Zadok Jewelers.” For them, it’s more than just a tagline; it’s been the store’s philosophy for decades.

“We value integrity and always remember we are here because of our customers,” Dror says. “We want to focus on making a customer, not a sale.”

And customers value their interactions with Dror, whom his wife describes as a magnetic “people person.”

“He’ll walk into a restaurant, and you’d think that he was the owner. Everyone comes. He shakes hands. He knows three-quarters of the people there. Anywhere he goes, he’s like his own ambassador without really knowing that he is. People just gravitate towards him.”

Helene says he’s like the “unofficial mayor of Houston.”

It’s a fitting title since Dror, Helene and the team at Zadok Jewelers have made such a point to ingratiate themselves into and give back to the community that welcomed them so warmly all those decades ago.

In 2015, U.S. District Judge David Hittner asked Dror and Helene to be a part of a naturalization ceremony in Houston, where they shared their success story with more than 2,000 new citizens.

The business has gotten involved with many different charitable organizations, supports the arts and helped with Hurricane Harvey disaster relief.

They are there for customers when they have been nominees or honorees for awards, and have been guests at many weddings, personal events and Christmas parties.

“We try to always keep in touch on the personal side, not only on the business side,” Dror says.
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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