Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Timeless Success for Small Business

BBB Accredited Business, Monahan & Co., is celebrating their 200th year of business. Six generations ago -- in 1815 -- Jeremiah Monahan (the great-great-great grandfather of current owner, Michael Monahan) left Dublin, Ireland, secured 21 diamonds and began his business. Monahan & Co. is America's oldest family-owned and operated jewelry store.

We spoke with Michael Monahan about the business's 200th anniversary, lessons from their lengthy presence in the marketplace and what has contributed to Monahan & Co.'s sustainability.

You are celebrating 200 years in business this year - congratulations! What have you found is the key to making your business such a long standing success?

Thank you! We're very proud and excited. What has made us such a long standing success is understanding this is a full time job. You have to like people and you have to like sales.

Monahan & Co. is family run and has roots in Dublin -- tell us a little bit about the origin of the business. And there’s a story involving the Claddagh ring?

Jeremiah Monahan came over from Dublin and started Monahan Jewelers. For the first 150 years the business was located in Worcester, Ma. 50 years ago the business relocated to our current location, Harwichport, MA. The Claddagh ring has a 500-year history in Ireland. Jeremiah brought his own unique design to the states when he started Monahan Jewelers 200 years ago. The ring represents friendship, loyalty and love. 

What are some of the challenges with being a small business -- and how have you overcome them to be a mainstay in the community? 

There are tremendous odds against us with the internet now, but people want homegrown stores. We have remained a mainstay through enthusiasm and by giving back to our community.

How many employees do you have today? 

Just two. Neal Waters, our President and myself. I have been with the business since I was 7, so I've been here 68 years.

What is a favorite moment as a business owner? What part of the job do you enjoy the most? What do you find most difficult? 

My favorite time as a business owner would have to be celebrating 200 years. It's been a long time coming and it's exciting to have achieved this long standing success as a small family-owned business.

The internet has probably caused the most difficulty for us. Not because it affected sales but because people will use sites like Amazon to order jewelry and when they find it is defective they bring it to us to fix. We never try to fix a piece that hasn't come from our store and this can leave customers upset, but we always tell them it's better to return and make a purchase at an actual Jeweler.

How long have you been an Accredited Business with BBB?

I decided to apply for Accreditation in 1979.

Why did you make the original decision to become Accredited? 

I wanted to be Accredited because Better Business Bureau reassures customers that they are choosing a trustworthy business. BBB is very important.

Why have you remained an Accredited Business? What benefits do you appreciate/like the most about being Accredited? 

Again, Better Business Bureau reassures customers about the business they are selecting. We have worked very hard to maintain an A+ rating by taking care of our customers. We want people who are not familiar with our business to be reassured that they can trust us.

Other businesses envy a business with 200 years in service and a loyal following. Do you have advice for businesses who might be starting out? 

Your main goal should always be to please customers to encourage loyalty. I also recommend everyone join BBB. It is very important to let customers know you have a good business.

The clock outside the Monahan & Co. storefront was a gift from the business to the town of Harwichport. The gesture is meant to inspire design and development in their community. Monahan's philanthropic efforts set a great example for other small businesses applying for Accreditation.

Monahan & Co. has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to their community, customers and the standards that BBB expects as best practices. Learn more about becoming Accredited and part of a community of trustworthy businesses.

For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/boston, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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