Paul Machiels, who has spent the last 37 years selling jewelry, chains, and charms to retail stores, has announced his retirement. His announcement coincides with his intention to sell JKM Enterprises, parent company of Charms Plus, to interested buyers. His book of business continues to be lucrative with over 500 active customers.
“I was 32 in 1981 when I started in the business,” says Machiels. “I started as a salesman and partner for Golden Link in early 1981.” Paul was prodded by his father-in-law, Bob, to go out on his own later in the year. Bob loaned Paul $5000 and on November 15, 1981 he launched Amsterdam Gold. He promptly paid Bob back by the end of December.
An immigrant from Holland and proud American citizen, Paul has contributed many years of innovation to the wholesale jewelry business. He started with gold chains and ventured into many areas, subsequently generating income of over $300,000 in 1982. With the help of his business partner and wife, Susi, they generated over $1.1 million in sales in 1983, then eventually generated revenue of $5 million at its peak in the latter part of the decade.
Many strategies contributed to his success in the industry, including his backing by a Swiss gold chain provider on a gold lease. “This was critical in enabling us to try different products, unique bracelets from Milan, Italy, handmade cottage industry bracelets, and chains of all kinds and sizes,” says Paul. “It was suggested by a Canadian supplier to run a one-day gold sale for the retail buyer. We started with Belk Department Stores on a Black Friday sale, and worked all night on Thanksgiving. We grossed $10,000 in two days and decided to start this at other department stores.”
Paul eventually hired sales reps to do the gold sales. A large, national retail jeweler liked the idea and Paul’s company started doing the gold sales across their 500-store footprint with a team of 10 people. Business and diversity spawned innovation and his company started doing custom, special orders. Once launched, this successful endeavor averaged 40 orders faxed in per day from the jewelry chain stores.
The Charlotte and Atlanta trade shows, among many others, became strategic events and were lucrative and enjoyable. On average, Paul’s company had 13 people and 5 booths at the shows for many years.
As the industry pivoted in the 1990s, so did Paul as he put his focus on charms. Moving towards charms required a new strategy and a new business, Charms Plus.
Paul traveled worldwide to obtain the best suppliers for his customers and innovated the display of charms in custom display cases with a new system for product ordering requiring a smaller inventory and streamlined fulfillment.
Charms became a very lucrative and enduring business for Charms Plus over the last 20 years. Client preferences and desire for quality drove many iterations of gold and silver charms for earrings, bracelets and necklaces and Paul, once again, pivoted towards the very best products imported from many countries including China, Turkey, Italy and many others.
Paul stated, “Leveraging long-time relationships is what drove my business. Trust is the strongest trait of success and I’ve made thousands of friendships in my years in the field.”
Paul’s plan for retirement is to travel with his wife, not for business, but for enjoyment. He also looks forward to spending more time with his children and grandchildren and espousing many words of wisdom in his famous basement bar with friends and family.