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Omaha Store Owner Motivated by Fast Cars

He got into the jewelry business to buy a Jaguar.

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INSTORE-Get Inspired-Dwaine Ferguson

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BORN IN A SMALL TOWN. I grew up on a ranch. I’m originally from Brewster, a little town of 17 people in the sand hills of Nebraska. It was known once for being the smallest county seat in America, but then it was beat out by some town in South Dakota who had two fewer people.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BEING A JEWELER. When you do a special piece for a person or a couple, like a unique set of wedding rings, it’s fun. You get involved with the people you’re working with and they become repeat customers.

STAFFING. I have four salespeople and an independent jeweler who works in the back, and wax carver who works out of his house.

TOOL SAVVY. I don’t have any training of any sort. I have on the job training. When I decided I wanted to be a jeweler, I knew this old guy who was a jeweler and was also a minister. So he could make the rings for couples and then marry them, which was cool. I called him one day and wanted to get into one of his adult education classes for jewelers. He needed an assisted and I knew how to weld because I grew up on a ranch, I knew what end of the pliers to hold onto, which was more than some of them knew. So I was taking the class and teaching. It’s a quicker way to learn if you’re showing someone else how to do it.

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PENTAGON REDO. I never was an architect. I went to trade school and did some of the things architects did. I was in architecture for nine years. About 50 years ago when I worked for a large architectural company I redrew the Pentagon, which is kind of cool now that I look back in time. I worked in electrical and civil engineering. And along came this job where they were going to re-electrify the Pentagon. My job was to redraw the floor plans so it could be rewired.

INSPIRATION FOR CAREER SWITCH. I spent time in 1968 in San Francisco, when I was in the Navy and I saw people selling all kinds of stuff on the sidewalk. Some of the people I met out in San Francisco were doing some of the strangest things and I thought, I can do that.

HIRING OFF THE STREET. After I bought the store, I’d have strange guys wandering in saying they were jewelers. One guy said he would work for food and I said OK. It was unusual. But what did I know about running a business? Nothing. Luckily I got a couple guys who were halfway decent jewelers.

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