February 1, 2012

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40 under Forty

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Article

All in the Family

Family-owned S.E. Needham Jewelers Thriving into Sixth Generation

Peri Kinder

February 1, 2012

            Understanding roles is imperative for a smooth operation. Needham knows his strengths—and his weaknesses. He also understands his brother’s talents. Needham doesn’t have to worry about doing his brother’s job and can focus on his own concerns like buying merchandise, advertising, supervising, hiring and training. He calls it a careful dance, a precise balance between family members.

            When working with family on a daily basis, it’s important to take a step back and take a break. Each Friday morning, for the last 18 years, Needham has played tennis with his father and two brothers. They are also involved in golf, skiing, basketball, running and biking. And he insists they don’t talk shop.

            “Being active, recognizing the important roles of life and approaching life in a way that says there’s more than just business is vital to staying mentally balanced,” Needham says. “Anyone in a family business definitely needs to recognize that there are goals, there has to be things in their lives they are working toward that are different from their work.”

 

Building a Legacy

The Needham family is also involved with the community, whether it’s supporting local schools, serving on the city council or working with the Downtown Alliance. Their approach to business includes lots of personal service and getting to know their customers as if they were also family members.

            “I see everyone that walks in the front door. It’s that idea of being very personable of actually having the face and being in the community,” Needham says. “It’s like the Chinese proverb, if a man doesn’t know how to smile, he shouldn’t open a shop.” 

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