6 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2018 letter from the publisher T he National Jeweler team is proud to present the 2018 State of the Majors report, the third since Jewelers of America acquired National Jeweler in 2015. In those three years, one of the biggest changes is that a word that seemed taboo in our industry is once again being uttered—optimistic. When I speak to retailers and manufacturers they are optimistic about the present and the future. Business is picking up and the economic landscape is favorable to an industry that relies on expendable income. Our industry, after a record $77 billion year in 2017, is heading for another record-breaking year in 2018. This upswing, however, has caused a latent issue to bubble to the surface: Good help is hard to find. This challenge is sometimes the fault of the compa- ny looking to fill positions, and sometimes not. During my conversations with Dave Siminski of United PMR (those of you who have read my previous letters know that we talk often) he complains a lot about how difficult hiring can be. The biggest issue for him is location. United is headquartered in Buffalo, New York, a city whose population hovers around 250,000. That’s not a huge number for an American city today. Now, imagine that you are an independent jewelry store in a small town; your hiring pool is even smaller than Mr. Siminski’s is. As a company, the depth of the hiring pool is not something you can do a lot about. But there is something a company can control. In July, I once again served as a career coach at GIA’s Career Fair. I was struck by how many of the people I spoke with told me the same story. They found a job that matched their skills and experience, but after inquiring they discovered that the salary was significantly less than what they could accept. When I say “accept,” it does not mean the salary being offered was beneath them; it wasn’t enough to cover their living expenses. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, between July 2017-July 2018, wages rose 2.7 percent. In that same period inflation was 2.9 percent. Pew Research Center Senior Writer Drew DeSilver noted in an article published Aug. 8 that, “After adjusting for inflation … today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power it did in 1978.” 40 years ago! It’s time the jewelry industry rode this wave of optimism and increasing sales and invested in itself. You want good talent, pay for it, even overpay for it.You want people who feel invested in your business like you do? Give them a reason. If you hire people at the lowest salary level you can get them at, what sort of signal does it send? I am not suggesting that you should run your balance sheet into the red. There are other things you can do. Invest in training, create perfor- mance-based incentives, concentrate on extras like work/life balance and get creative with the types of benefits you offer. The point here is that you cannot look at the positions you are hiring for like it’s still 1978. Offer competitive wages and show people that the jewelry industry is a good career with upward mobility and earnings growth. In the end, this type of optimistic approach helps us all. Matthew Tratner October 2018 PUBLISHER Matthew Tratner mtratner@nationaljeweler.com | 646-658-5805 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Michelle Graff michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com | 212-687-2758 EDITORIAL Senior Editor Brecken Branstrator brecken.branstrator@nationaljeweler.com | 212-687-2763 Associate Editor Ashley Davis ashley.davis@nationaljeweler.com | 646-658-5802 CONTRIBUTORS Research Edahn Golan, Peggy Jo Donahue Editorial Danielle Max Copy Editor Peggy Jo Donahue Design and Layout Weswen Design MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Director of Marketing & Communications Molly Fallon | mfallon@jewelers.org Assoc. Dir. of Communications & Digital Development Lauren Thompson | lthompson@jewelers.org SALES U.S. Sales Inquiries | (646) 658-5805 India Representative | Bhupal Potdar | bhupalpotdar@gmail.com | +91 - 98211 51035 EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Ryan Berg, Lee Michaels Fine Jewelers Cathy Calhoun, Calhoun Jewelers Bill Farmer, Jr., Farmer’s Jewelry Karen Goracke, Borsheims Larry Pelzel, Neiman Marcus Craig Rottenberg, Long’s Jewelers PRESIDENT & CEO David J. Bonaparte BOARD OF DIRECTORS 120 Broadway, Suite 2820 | New York, NY 10271 | www.nationaljeweler.com John Henne, Chairman, Henne Jewelers Holly Wesche, Chair-Elect, Wesche Jewelers Cathy Tivol, Vice Chair, TIVOL Karen Goracke, Vice Chair, Borsheims Robert F. Moeller II, Treasurer, R.F. Moeller Jeweler Coleman Clark, Secretary, B.C. Clark Jewelers Ryan Berg, Past Board Chair, Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry Mercedes Abramo, Cartier North America Mike Alexander, Jewelers Mutual Chad Berg, Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry David Bouffard, Signet Jewelers Ltd. Cathy Calhoun, Calhoun Jewelers Jenny Caro, Jewelry By Designs Ronda Daily, Bremer Jewelry Peter Engel, Fred Meyer Jewelers Elise Greenberg, Greenberg’s Jewelers Simon Katz, Simons Jewelers Chuck Kuba, Iowa Diamond Joseph Molfese, Bella Cosa Jewelers Steve Padis, Padis Jewelers Matthew Rosenheim, Tiny Jewel Box Craig Rottenberg, Long’s Jewelers Steve Velasquez, Madison Jewelers