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For Pennsylvania Retailer, Traumatic Car Accident Sends a Message

Jeweler finds deep meaning in everyday life.





Tonia Leitzel Ulsh

Mountz Jewelers, three locations in PA

Tonia Leitzel Ulsh is co-owner of Mountz Jewelers with her brother, Ronald Leitzel. Mountz Jewelers has three locations in Carlisle, Camp Hill and Colonial Park/Harrisburg, PA. The siblings come from a family of entrepreneurs in Central Pennsylvania. Tonia enjoys travel, Napa Valley wines, and spending time with her husband, John, and their son James, daughter Katie, and soft-coated Wheaton terrier, Caymus, named for one of their favorite California vineyards.

Online Extra Bonus Q&A with Tonia Leitzel Ulsh

How would you describe your ideal day off?

A relaxing morning, not having to be anywhere, enjoying a nice cup of hot tea. My husband and I enjoy going to local farmers markets, a long walk in the afternoons and ending the day with a nice dinner with our family or friends. I enjoy a nice dinner with fine wine. We love Napa wines and I enjoy Caymus wines, and wines from a very small vineyard in Napa called Spring Mountain.

What are your responsibilities at work and what do you enjoy about the business?

Buying, marketing, finances. I don’t know anybody who owns a jewelry store who doesn’t enjoy buying. That’s probably my favorite part. But I also enjoy taking care of clients. Every Christmas morning, I’m thinking of certain clients, knowing they are getting something special for Christmas and just wishing I could be there to see their expression.

You love to travel. What was your most memorable trip?

After our car accident in 2007 we converted to Catholicism and we went on a pilgrimage. That trip was to be to Turkey and Greece, and on the trip my husband, who at that time still used a cane after the accident, saved a man’s life, saved him from drowning in the Aegean Sea, when we were in the Greek Islands. We also made a detour to Italy to see the beatification of Pope John Paul II, before he became a saint. We made a detour to Italy and slept on the streets of Rome to be able to get into St. Peter’s Square. That trip is at the top of my list.

What did you learn from working with your dad in the jewelry retail business as a child?

My father was one of the hardest working people I know. Nothing comes easy. You need to work for success. You can’t sit back and let it happen. Always treat others as you want to be treated. He was a faithful man and lived by the golden rule.

How would you describe your management style?

I’ve always been taught to lead by example. To never ask someone to do something I am not willing to do myself. I work with employees to give them the best work/home balance that I can. It’s important for your life not to be all about work. I also try to steer people in a direction that they enjoy what they’re doing. If someone joins the company and wants to be an engraver, for example, and they get into it and don’t like it, we will look for another path for them.

What do you like best about your community?

Our area is a small community, not a metropolitan area at all. I feel we can make a bigger difference in our community because of its size. We give back to over 100 charities in our area. We always try to volunteer within the organizations as well as donating jewelry and money and hosting fashion shows. We ask our employees to help. Many of them made masks during the COVID shutdown and also made meals to deliver. When you give as an organization it has a trickle down effect through the company. When they see you can make a difference they get involved as well.

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When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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