RED BANK – Alan Fisher has always been passionate about the town where he grew up, raised his family and started a family business.
It just makes sense to him to support his community and give back in any way he can. So, for Fisher, owner of A.H. Fisher Diamonds and Claimlink Jewelry Replacement, being recognized for his commitment as a semifinalist for The New Jersey Family Business Awards 2013, is icing on the cake, or, more fittingly for his business, a jewel in the crown.
“I am thrilled to have been selected for this prestigious award,” he said. “I love my community and take great pride in the business I’ve built with my family. It is a privilege to be considered one of the top family-owned businesses in New Jersey and I am grateful for the recognition.”
The award, now in its 21st year, recognizes family firms in the state that best exemplify strong business expertise, active family engagement, innovation and community involvement. It is given by the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University, along with corporate sponsors.
All New Jersey-based, family-owned businesses that include more than one generation – and whose policies and business practices have had a positive impact on the business and community – are eligible. Awards are given in two categories: Those with annual sales over $10 million and those with up to $10 million in sales. Winners were honored last month and are eligible to go on to compete for the National Family Business of the Year.
Winners are selected based upon policies that set them apart from other New Jersey family businesses, how they made it through tough financial times, community involvement that has a multi-generation effect on the community, and future plans for the business.
Fisher actually has two businesses: A.H. Fisher Diamonds is the fine jewelry store, and Claimlink Jewelry Replacement specializes in replacement of fine jewelry and diamonds for the insurance claims industry. Fisher is often called upon to speak on that topic at national insurance conferences.
Fisher was raised in a household that included four generations of “all hard-working people. Honesty, loyalty, generosity, communication and especially commitment were always discussed,” he said.
He and his wife of 28 years, Karen, raised their children, Matt and Lauren with those same family values. Matt now works in the family business full time, while Karen works part time and Lauren, who just graduated from James Madison University, spent holidays and weekends working for her dad.
His business has been on Broad Street for 30 years, one of the few family-owned businesses remaining there. Fisher takes great pride in the fact that the children of couples he sold wedding rings to over the last three decades come to him to purchase theirs. That customer loyalty, he said, speaks volumes about their trust in his business.
In turn, he gives back to his community whenever possible, through community civic and philanthropic events and has done so for many years.
He has helped one school buy new playground equipment, donated jewelry for fundraising auctions, and donated a portion of his sales to help organizations in the community supporting breast cancer awareness, childhood deformities and, for 10 years, has been involved with the Catholic Charities Ray of Hope Gala, donating a fine diamond used in the live auction.
In addition to this regular community involvement, Fisher and his family were saddened by the devastation caused by Super Storm Sandy to the Jersey Shore. Again he teamed with Catholic Charities and donated a portion of sales to victims.
“I find it amazing how fast word travels within a close-knit community. I can only tell you how good it feels to have people come up to me or stop in the store just to say hello and acknowledge our participation in the community,” Fisher said. He is also quick to point out with pride that son, Matt, is following in the family footsteps, including buying a house in a nearby community.
And, at age 60, Fisher is not even considering slowing down. While his son takes on greater responsibilities in the firm, Fisher has begun next steps in marketing and educating the diamond-buying public. He is building two new websites – one for each business. Soon customers will be able to view his entire inventory on a special “jewel cloud,” leading to eventual e-commerce. On the Claimlink site, clients will be able to use “Diamond Search” and “Jewelry Builder” to design and build their own jewelry online. He and Matt will ensure that clients purchasing online still have access to him and other knowledgeable members of his staff. Both sites will include informative newsletters describing trends in the jewelry, diamond, and insurance industries.
So, while not looking to slow down, Fisher does plan to delegate more of the day-to-day responsibilities to his son. He plans more work-related travel conducting seminars to the insurance industry about jewelry and diamonds.
As for the award? “We run our business and give back to our community out of our sense of responsibility. To be publicly recognized for it is humbling,” Fisher said.