He hopes to open more locations.

GERMANTOWN, WI — Kesslers Diamond Center Inc. in Germantown, WI, announced that Joe Gehrke will join the company as president. Richard Kessler, founder and current president, will transition to the role of CEO.

"Joe has been a trusted advisor of Kesslers Diamonds for several years," Kessler said. "His understanding of our business coupled with his appreciation for our culture make him uniquely qualified to take on this important role in our company."

Gehrke joins the company from Associated Bank, where he worked in commercial banking for the past 17 years. During his tenure, he provided financial guidance and services to variety of corporate customers, including Kesslers Diamonds.

"I’ve had the benefit of an aspired career at Associated Bank, which has a similar culture to Kesslers Diamonds," Gehrke said. "Both organizations are focused on growing their businesses in a manner that benefits their customers, employees and the communities they serve. The commitment of Richard and his entire team of employee-owners have helped Kesslers earn its place as the largest seller of diamonds and diamond engagement rings in the state of Wisconsin."

Gehrke's goals include increasing the number of diamond centers from its current seven locations and growing sales revenue. The company has diamond centers in Germantown, Brookfield, Appleton, Greenfield, Madison and downtown Milwaukee, as well as Grandville, MI.

In 2011, Kesslers Diamonds transferred ownership of the company to its employees with the formation of an employee stock ownership plan. Last year the company formed a succession committee made up of Kesslers Diamonds employee-owners and two external advisers, including Gehrke, to discuss future leadership of the company.

"We wanted to define the characteristics of the next president," Kessler said. "Our final description fit Joe to a T. He has a wealth of financial knowledge, understands how businesses operate and appreciates the importance of providing value to customers, which is something I experienced first-hand working with Joe the past several years."

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