Within the jewelry industry lives a wonderful, unique breed of business owner; the type of entrepreneur who consciously makes the choice to forego big profit and overblown growth for the sake of serving small businesses, one store at a time. H.P. Johnson Company built their business serving independent jewelers and, today, they remain committed to providing small, independent retailers the terms, products and pricing they need to survive.
Owned and operated by Ron Johnson, a second generation family participant in the business, H.P. Johnson Company began with the buyout of a well-known, full-line jewelry house that was split into divisions and sold separately. Ron’s father, HP, took a chance and bought the giftware, appliance, clocks and shavers group of merchandise. With this “left over” merchandise HP opened the doors to the H.P. Johnson Company 65 years ago.
In the beginning the company operated much like the small businesses they serve today. Employees did whatever was needed to keep the business running. From sweeping floors to buying products to delivery, no job was too big, no job was too small.
When Ron joined the company in 1960 he was fresh out of the military and started as a bookkeeper. His father operated under the philosophy that during the day they were about work and at night they would be family. This mind-set enabled the father/son business team to operate efficiently while maintaining a solid relationship.
“Often we rode to work or caught the streetcar together,” recalls Ron. “But when we walked out at 5 pm we rarely mentioned the business.”
Ron’s first few years in the business weren’t glamorous. He recalls how he mopped floors and bought product and did whatever was needed to be done. For him there isn’t a job he hasn’t done.
The company grew and phased out shavers and appliances. Soon they expanded their assortment of giftware and clocks to include jewelry, crystal, dinnerware and flatware. H.P. Johnson Company became a staple in most retail stores when it was common for them to carry giftware.
In 1972 Ron took the reins to the company when his father passed away 2 days before his 65th birthday. He went on to bring his daughter on board for a while and hired his son-in-law when he graduated from college, in spite of his daughter’s protest.
“I’ve lived by my father’s advice about hiring family. During the day we work together and, at night, we’re family. It’s worked. My son-in-law has been with me for 26 years and is poised to take over the company when I leave.”
Today H.P. Johnson continues to offer an assortment of several popular lines including Anson Jewelry, Sterling/Gold-Filled charms, Timex Watches, Zippo Lighters, Baby Goods in Sterling, Silver-plate, Pewter and Stainless, plus many other gift items too numerous to mention. They also serve as the national distributor to the independent retail trade for Fiesta Dinnerware and Oneida Silversmiths.
Servicing the independent market well requires walking a mile in their shoes, which is exactly what H.P. Johnson has done. Operating their business with only 13 employees allows them to view their business practices through the eyes of their clients. This led to customized purchasing programs that benefit small business owners. You won’t find a minimum requirement here. Retailers can buy 1 of any item without penalty. H. P. Johnson also did away with master pack quantities and pass along volume discounts for which small businesses would not qualify.
H.P. Johnson Company is proud of the more than 65 years of service to small businesses. Achieving this level of longevity and success comes from a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to make a small business work. Maybe that’s what it takes to stay in business 65 years.