Four generations of stellar customer service

By Emily Innes

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Nash Jewellers, based out of London, Ont., has had four generations at the helm of the company and is approaching its 100-year anniversary.  Since its debut in 1918, Nash’s focus has always been on providing excellent customer service, competitive pricing, and quality products.

John A. Nash was the founder of Nash Jewellers and his son, John B. (Jack) Nash, joined the company in 1934. His athleticism provided marketing for the company as he competed nationally in golf, badminton, and curling. The third generation to join the firm was John C. Nash in 1975. In 2005, Colin Nash became the fourth generation to join the company as the manager of the downtown store. His brother, Bryan Nash, began managing their newer store in the north end of London in 2011.

John C. Nash said they never take customers’ loyalty for granted as the company has always faced intense competition. In 1979, there were 77 other jewellery stores in London and 31 jewellery stores located 200 yards from Nash’s front door. “We had two mottos in the (1970s) and one motto was you would walk them to the door and say, ‘Thank you, we are looking forward to working with you for the next 60 years’ and the other one was, ‘Service ’til it hurts’,” said John C.

Customer service key to success

They have beat out a lot of the competition and now only about 30 jewellery stores operate in London. However, Colin noted that with the rise of jewellery sales on the internet, they still need to have competitive pricing. Good customer service remains key to their success, according to the father and son pair.

“It really does come back to the service and how you treat the clientele and treating them like family so they are not just coming for one item,” said Colin. “What (my dad) enforces into me is that this is not a one-time thing — this is for the next 60 years. We really enforce that with our customers so that they come back for occasion, after occasion, after occasion.”

Nash also provides its customers with very knowledgeable and educated staff. When John C., a former teacher, came to the firm, Nash joined the American Gem Society (AGS). He also implemented a staff policy that required all employees to study toward becoming a gemologist.

John C. became the first AGS Certified Gemologist and established London’s first and only AGS Gem Lab. In the 1990s, John C. was elected to the AGS Board of Directors and he was invited to join DeBeers Carat Club. In 1999, he served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the AGS. Colin is a certified gemologist and he also studied goldsmithing at the New Approach School for Jewelers in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Three-time Consumer Choice Award winners

Their commitment to their customers has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades. They have won the Consumer Choice Award for Business Excellence in the jewellery category every year since it was introduced in London three years ago.

A lot of awards are popularity contests — how many of your friends and family can vote for you in that limited window that they give you . . . But, the Consumer Choice Award is an outside award, so that to me is much more relevant because it is people who do not know you personally, but are voting for you for what you do,” said Colin. “I embrace the concept of (this award) because I believe it is a lot more legitimate.”

John C. said that a meaningful award for him was winning the AGM’s Robert M. Shipley Award in 2007. Colin interjected to describe the significance of the honour: “I know you are being humble Dad, but he was the first Canadian to win the award. It was for my father. (He has) been the president of the Canadian Jewel Association and on the AGS board and very involved in the industry; in making the industry a better place.”

For both Colin and John C., however, it is not the awards that they describe as being their proudest accomplishment but the “enduring family nature of the staff”. “We (recently) had our staff party at our place  . . . and to have staff members who had been with us for 30 to 40 years that have now retired to still show up to staff functions is a big accomplishment,” said John C.

Branded store with quality choices

John C. said a successful accomplishment of Colin’s was transitioning Nash from being the brand to Nash being a branded store. “If I can bring the best watch company in the world in, Rolex; the best pearl company in the world in, MIKIMOTO; the best fashionable jewelry company in the world in, John Hardy; now all of a sudden you become a destination,” said Colin. “We can bring those brands locally and keep people buying local. I think people want to buy those brands, but they do not want to buy them from an unknown source. They would prefer to buy it from a trusted source in which we appeal to the public for.”

Nash is a big supporter of charitable organizations in London and contributes to over 100 charities. “Generally, I do not say no, whether it is a $50 gift certificate or a product from the store or whatever we can do to help out,” said Colin. “We are heavily involved in the community and I think through our roots we have been able to grow into the concept about being involved in the community and that is a healthy way to be.”

Over the years Nash has sponsored numerous youth hockey teams, soccer teams, and other teams. Though there were not as many teams in recent years, according to John C., with 11 grandchildren and more on the way, he said they will be supporting lots of local teams in the near future.

For the 100th anniversary, Nash has partnered with the London Health Sciences Centre to donate to each one of their major functions over the next few years. Then the hospital will join Nash at their party to celebrate a century in business. Colin said they expect to raise over $1 million through the partnership.

The next 100 years

Big changes are coming to Nash in mid-2016 as they have sold their iconic downtown core location and will be amalgamating with their north-end store at a new location. Their neighbour Mike Manuel, who owns the Music Hall, purchased their downtown location. He will be paying homage to Nash’s legacy by keeping all the cabinetry and jewellery cases intact.

“For me, (it) was (about) taking the two doors that were six kilometers apart and breaking them down into one store that can supply overall quality and service that will benefit ourselves and the community in a simpler way,” said Colin.

With the 100th anniversary rapidly approaching they are already making plans to keep the family tradition going for many more years to come. The ground is leveled on the new site and they are ready to build. Now in the final stages of development, the big billboard at the new location states, “Nash Jewellers, home for the next 100 years”.

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