Connect with us

Keeping It in the Family

Bernie Robbins’ owners give away the business to their veteran management team.



WHEN SUMMONED TO a meeting at Harvey and Madeleine Rovinsky’s home last October, the veteran Bernie Robbins management team expected to be told their employers were closing or selling the retail jewelry business.

Instead, they learned that the Rovinskys were giving them the business. They’d been chosen to carry the torch as five equal partners and assume ownership of Bernie Robbins stores in Newtown, PA, and Somers Pointe, NJ.

Sales manager Gennifer Flaxman said she felt simultaneously overwhelmed and filled with confidence and “beautiful emotions.”

“It’s like imagining every nerve in your body standing at attention,” she says.


Sandra Moran, director of purchasing, says the evening felt like a roller-coaster ride.

The five-person team has worked together for at least 20 years; some have been employed by the company for more than 30. Steve Jaffe managed the Somers Pointe location and is the diamond buyer for the company. Andy Lazar has worked as the company watch buyer and a salesperson at the Somers Pointe location. Stephen Berman is the manager of the Newtown location.

Harvey and Maddy had run the business for 57 years. It was founded by Maddy ’s father, Bernie Robbins, in 1962.

Without a family succession plan, the couple considered selling the business. “But eventually, we said, ‘You know, this has been right in front of our faces all this time. Instead of trying to find a qualified buyer, why not give it to people that are successfully running it now?’” Harvey Rovinsky told Fox Business in the fall.

Rovinsky couldn’t be happier that his plan has come to fruition. “This is like a third generation taking over. Because even though they’re not family, they’re family.”

Harvey and Maddy have been helpful with every transition detail, Flaxman says. “They’re letting us find our own way, but Maddy says, ‘Whatever you need. I’m here for you.’”

The Story of How Bernie Robbins Transferred Ownership to Five Key ManagersMoran worked together with Maddy on buying for years, and she hopes to continue to have her input. “She has a great eye,” Moran says.

“We’ve always played off of each other, and I hope we can maintain that.”

Consistency is key, says Peter Salerno, director of digital marketing. “People love us for the experience we’ve been able to provide.”
Jaffe says suppliers, clients, and employees are all lined up behind the new management team. “The jewelry business has always been a relationship business,” he says, “and frankly, we have extremely strong relationships. People are willing to take the next step with us because of how we’ve operated.”

Flaxman says priorities include updating the stores’ aesthetics to appeal to younger clients and planning for the buying season in Las Vegas. They also want to ensure that all team members are well cared for at a time when the new owners are adapting to additional responsibilities. “If you are someone like me,” Flaxman says, “who has been running the sales floor and suddenly you’re entrenched in 401K administration, [it can be challenging] but it’s an opportunity to get involved in things that we haven’t before.”

On May 1, they launched a new marketing campaign called “The New Era of Wow,” which includes a promotion that offers customers up to $500 off their next purchase. They’re also planning a summer kickoff party.

Jaffe hopes to keep the entire staff engaged and intact. “We anticipate the vast majority of them going forward with us. At the end of the day, the relationships that the sales staff has built with clients is what is going to keep us going forward.”




When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular