A Gem of a Company – The Gerson Companies started as a jewelry wholesaler 70 years ago; three generations later, the family business is more diversified.
Originally Published by Gifts & Decorative Accessories, June 2012
BY KATHY KRASSNER
Back in 1942, Oscar Gerson began traveling through western Kansas selling wholesale sterling silver and turquoise jewelry while his wife, Antonie, filled orders and kept the books. Fast-forward 70 years, and the company they founded — now called The Gerson Companies — has evolved into a successful design, import and distribution business run by their grandchildren.
Today, what was once known as The Gerson Company has changed its name to the plural “Companies” to reflect its diversification into numerous product categories beyond jewelry — home decor, LED lighting, gifts, tabletop, floral and seasonal products. Gerson’s business now comprises two divisions: Gerson Everyday branded product lines and Gerson International, its seasonal program. “A primary reason for our longstanding tenure in business is our commitment to continually reinvent ourselves,” states Jim. “We still create a jewelry line today; it only comprises about three percent of our total annual revenues. We … continually look at our product offering to determine where we are not meeting the needs of our customers, and then create opportunities to meet those needs.”
Annually, Gerson offers more than 10,000 SKUs; this includes nearly 4,000 everyday items, plus 3,000 in each of its seasonal lines, which are introduced twice yearly. “We are focused on design and technology to meet the insatiable appetite of consumers’ need to be wowed,” Jim says.
The company also does its best to wow its retail accounts, which number around 10,000 and representing a broad retail spectrum from locally owned shops to larger store chains.
“A unique component to our growth and to who we are today is our ability to support many different market classes,” asserts Jim.
He also notes the close relationships that Gerson maintains with its customers. “Our family views our partnership with our retail customers as multidimensional,” he says. “We work in front of the curve to anticipate items and categories consumers will be looking for, side by side to replenish merchandise to keep inventories in stock, and behind the sale to offer customer service after the purchase is made.”
As to the future, Jim shares that Gerson will continue to follow two courses: “First, to continue to grow organically by challenging our designers and merchants to innovate and improve our product offerings and pricing. Second, we have been successful over our 70 years in business by acquiring and creating great, complementary companies to our businesses. As a family owned, third-generation business, we have always reinvested our profits back into the business.”
Adds Jim: “We appreciate the wonderful relationships with our retail partners and look forward to the next 70 years!”