Member Profile: Skalitzky Jewelers, Sun Prairie, WI
Welcome to Skalitzky Jewelers, a fine jewelry store that offers a full-service jewelry repair and custom design department with locations in Sun Prairie and Waunakee, WI. They have been in business since 1982 currently employing 6 full-time and 3 part-time employees. Bill Skalitzky remembers being a 15- year old boy when he came home from a night out with friends. His parents were having a dinner party and one of their guests was a Sun Prairie jeweler. He was a comical man who was cracking jokes and Bill tossed a few back at him. Later, the jeweler told Bill’s parents he wanted to hire him. Bill applied for the job and has been in the industry since. He started his schooling by becoming a certified watch maker and then proceeded to jewelry repair. And the rest is history.
Bill firmly believes that to do things successfully you need to have training, hard work, and sweat. Principles that have helped with the success, growth, and continuity of his business are a simple recipe: Honesty, integrity, community outreach and involvement, and staying humble. It is important to learn, “all that you have learned is a minuscule part of what you will continue to learn over your career.” Our industry is ever-changing, and we have to change with it.
One of the biggest challenges Skalitzky’s, or any jewelry store for that fact, faced was the recession. It was an interesting experience, a bit stressful, but a very good learning experience. Skalitzky’s was able to make the necessary changes and came out of the recession expanding their business to a new location. Custom design work has become a specialty at Skalitzky’s as well as custom designed and custom faceted gemstones.
On a personal note, when Bill and his wife, Jane, aren’t running the business, they enjoy spending time with their blended family of 5 children and 7 grandchildren. Bill also enjoys caring for and playing on his 5-acre golf course, aka his back yard. His course is called “Cabin on the Green”. The cabin is an 1846 oak log cabin that his Grandfather lived in as a boy. The building has been restored by his Father and now by Bill. Every spring, the cabin is opened up to all the 2nd-grade students in the Sun Prairie Area School District for their local history field trip. There are days when 200 students will pass through this tiny cabin to learn a little about their neighbors that settled the area of East Bristol (between Columbus and Sun Prairie).
Member Profile: D.J. Bitzan Jewelers, Waite Park, MN
Dick Bitzan, CEO, CG, GG – owns and operates D. J. Bitzan Jewelers, Waite Park, MN. The store is a free-standing 4400 square foot business which has 18 full time employees with 2 part time employees. D. J. Bitzan's mission is to Celebrate Life's Moments, by creating client experiences through
exceptional service, unparalleled assortment, and real lasting value. Equally important is a commitment to family, employees, and the Central MN Community. Don Bitzan founded the company in 1966. Dick Bitzan, Don's son, joined the business in 1973, and today Dick and his daughter Erin, own and operate the business.
What principles have contributed to your success?
Dick feels the most important element is dealing with integrity -- with clients, with employees, and with vendors. He feels actively engaging and supporting in many aspects of their community, including financially supporting over 250 nonprofit organizations annually, have helped D J Bitzan become an important community asset. Also, a never-ending Improvement Campaign in their organization keeps D J Bitzan moving forward every day.
What are your best sellers and what type of merchandise do you look for in your store?
At D J Bitzan we try to offer products our clients will not see in other stores in Central MN. We look for unique pieces -- including many one-of-a-kind, often with interesting and unique gemstones. We also specialize in Fine Swiss watches, which many jewelers no longer do. And, of course, bridal continues to be our bread and butter.
What do you love most about your business?
I think most of us would agree the Best part of this business is the privilege to help our clients at many of the most joy-filled times in their lives. This never gets old. It is fun everyday- to share someone's love story, their achievements, their family's milestones. We make so many lifelong friendships through our professional lives! Working with my daughter Erin and our awesome staff makes every work day fun!
What have been the biggest challenges?
The biggest professional challenge for many in our industry came during the mortgage crisis in 2007-2008. Business was seriously affected, and the lack of available consumer credit made it hard to maintain our growth. We adjusted our offerings, adding different products and price points to encourage clients to continue to buy fine jewelry -- even when economic times were not great for so many of them. We examined every expense, and reduced total expenses by 11% without any layoffs. We were in the process of designing and building a new free-standing store during these challenging years...so getting sleep was sometimes difficult too. Community Affiliations:
Past and Present Leadership positions and Partnerships with dozens of organizations including:
United Way of Central MN, Central MN Habitat for Humanity, St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, CentraCare Health System, St. Cloud Hospital, St. Cloud State University, GREAT Theater, Paramount Arts, Central MN Community Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Non-professional Passions and Hobbies:
Dick's interests include: above all Time with Family- also Travel, Saltwater Fishing, Boating, Exercising, Gardening, Live Theatre,and Wheel Pottery. A particular highlight for Dick was his Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011.