Jason Harn had dreams just like any other 20 year old kid. He saw himself doing something in the aeronautical industry that matched his aviation interests. But right in the middle of his dreams the unthinkable happened. His father passed away and, after the shock settled, Jason was the new owner of a 32 year old Mt. Pleasant, SC legacy called Loy Harn Jewelers.
Establishing a name
Loy Harn began his jewelry career in Savannah, GA as a young boy working in the back of a local shop handling watch repairs. When he found his way to Mt. Pleasant in the 1970s, he also found a job working for a local jeweler doing what he did best – repair work. After several years, he opened the doors to his own shop in 1980, realizing a life-long dream.
From that point on Loy Harn took care of each and every customer that walked through his door. He handled custom designs and carved wax replicas for his customers, putting his heart and soul into creating one-of–a-kind pieces for them. He made each person feel special and produced nothing less than high quality jewelry meant to last a lifetime.
Jason, his son, helped out in the store after school and on weekends – unless the waves were up. He handled small tasks, but enjoyed being able to watch his dad help people. Although he respected the industry, jewelry wasn’t where he was headed, at least not until he was faced with the decision of either taking over his father’s store or, possibly, shutting it down.
“Dad was a patient, hard worker who took care of his employees,” recalls Jason. “He’d cook breakfast for them and treated them like family. Likewise, he’d built an incredible reputation around this community and I knew it meant something to them for Loy Harn Jewelers to continue.”
It takes a village
Jason willingly gave up his dreams and decided to go all in on taking over his dad’s store. It wasn’t an easy decision, but the staff who’d stuck by Loy for more than 20 years pulled together and agreed to help keep the store humming while Jason learned the business.
“When I inherited the store 10 years ago I didn’t know nearly enough to run it on my own, but the wonderful staff that had been with my dad for a long time put off their retirements until I could learn the business,” enthused Jason. “They were so good that they kept it running for two years while I got my feet under me.”
The industry veterans were patient while Jason found his own way of running the store. Loy had a strong industry repair business that had served the company well while he was alive. But without the master repairman behind the bench the long-term prospect of keeping that business wasn’t financially sound anymore.
“When I took over, gold was $300 an ounce. Today it hovers around $1800 and the cost of doing business has completely changed. I had to re-evaluate everything and take a fresh look at what we wanted to keep and what we needed to change.”
Jason quickly moved from a hand-written inventory management system to an electronic one. He purchased a CAD machine for custom designs and gave the store a new look. He ventured into the new product territory and hired new staff once his dad’s loyal staff retired.
But perhaps the most important addition he made was hiring another industry veteran to help drive the business. Phil Wagers joined the Loy Harn team several years ago after he, like Jason, inherited his wife’s jewelry store.
“Jason and I had so much in common. We had been friends for so long that it was truly just divine intervention that brought us together,” Phil states. “I took over Wager’s Jewelers after my wife passed in 2007 and ran the store with the help of my two daughters until I decided I wanted to hunt and fish instead of work. So I left the business for a couple years, but found that I missed the personal interaction. That’s when Jason and I decided to join forces and take Loy Harn Jewelers even farther than it had come.”
Phil and Jason have plans again. With their focus on the store’s website, inventory and business growth the two seem to have found exactly what they were looking for, even if it wasn’t what they originally wanted.