Southport, Conn.--The Independent Jewelers Organization has announced that at its March conference in Houston, it will host a panel discussion on what it says is a hot topic in the industry--transition planning.

Panelists will include two stores whose owners sold to a family member, one who sold to an employee and one who sold to an outside buyer.

They are:
--The father-son pair of Chuck and Charles Smith of Morrison Smith Jewelers in Charlotte, North Carolina;
--Stephen Barnes (buyer) and Doyce Barnes (seller) of Barnes Jewelers in Goldsboro, North Carolina;
--Troy Gibson (buyer) and Dan Ingrum (seller), Danz Jewelers in Lodi, California; and
--Kelly and Doug Glennon (buyers) and Linda Hagan (seller) of Jewelry Creations in Dover, New Hampshire.

The featured keynote speaker in the conference’s general session will be astronaut and author Rick Searfoss, a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons (Top Gun) School. Searfoss will share the leadership, execution excellence, teamwork and innovation lessons of human space flight. 

In addition, the IJO announced its charity of choice to donate to in the flood-ravaged host city--the Houston Food Bank.

The buying group holds two conferences a year for buying, education and networking, and its members always give back to the host city in some way.

IJO President and CEO Jeff Roberts said over the years, IJO members have donated more than $350,000 to charities such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the North Texas Food Bank, Make-A-Wish and Jewelers for Veterans.

For the Houston Food Bank, IJO said it will be matching all member donations, from both jewelers and vendors in the form of cash or scrap gold, up to $25,000.

“It is our goal to give back to this devastated community, and we hope to be able to make a significant impact for the Houston Food Bank and its wonderful mission,” Roberts said.

IJO’s conference is scheduled to take place March 10 to 13 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel and the Houston Convention Center.

For more information or to contribute to the fund that will go to the Houston Food Bank, call IJO at 800-624-9252.

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