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Fourth Generation Family Business
From dry goods to diamonds, it’s all in the family. Henry E. “Hank” Davis recounts how four generations of Davis’ forged a family business from its earliest days as a circa 1920’s general store to a new millennium purveyor of the very finest jewelry. Over 80 years ago, Henry and Freda Davis founded the Davis family business in downtown Louisville. Their store occupied several different locations in the city’s business district, including a move necessitated by construction of a new interstate. A major metamorphosis occurred in 1998 after Hank Davis, grandson of the founders, enrolled in a strategic planning program offered by Greater Louisville Inc. – The Metro Chamber of Commerce. Through this program, Hank learned that 70% of his business came from 35% of his clients, and 80% of that client base lived within a five mile radius of a suburban site on the east side of Louisville that company leadership decided to acquire. Davis used two Small Business Administration loans to finance his move: the 504 and the 7(a) loan programs. The 504 loan program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to small businesses to acquire major fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment. Under SBA’s 7(a) program, loan proceeds can be used for most small business purposes. SBA guarantees the loans that banks make to borrowers, allowing the lender some additional flexibility. A Certified Development Company (CDC) located in Louisville was instrumental in working with a regional SBA lender to arrange the 504 program financing to build the new flagship jewelry store. Davis stated that “…to borrow a significant amount of money in today’s world, small businesses should use the SBA.” Subsequently, Davis decided to sell the downtown property and needed different financing options. A local SBA community bank worked with Davis Jewelers to obtain debt refinancing with the 7(a) loan program. Davis has nothing but praise for the process, particularly with the community bank. “I really enjoyed working with the bank. It’s been a very positive experience.” Henry and Freda Davis’ great-granddaughter, Ashley, is now the familiar face of Davis Jeweler’s, Inc. “She loves the business and has a definite passion for it,” says proud father, Hank. “I am proud to be involved in my family’s business and am focused on its continued success,” added Ashley. While the relocation and change in business strategy have worked out very well for Davis Jewelers, the company has weathered some challenging financial obstacles, including September 11, 2001 and the economic downturn of 2008 – 2011. In the wake of these obstructions, many small businesses were not able to survive. However, the shopping center where Davis Jewelers is located is in a highly visible locale that is 100% occupied, and more Class A office space is being built nearby. Davis points out that has been a “tremendous source of new business.” Today, Hank Davis reflects on the successful evolution of the family business from his grandparents’ general store, to the pawn and sporting goods store that his father, Arthur “Skip” Davis, operated, to the fine jewelry store that the third and fourth generation of Davis’ successfully manage. Hank said, “We are the first new Rolex jeweler in Louisville in 25 years and one of only two in the region. In our industry, this is the ultimate compliment. Rolex approached us, which rarely happens.” Davis Jewelers is also home to legendary American luxury designer David Yuman and his collection of fine jewelry and timepieces as well as the prestigious Forevermark diamonds. There are several sources for more information on the loan programs, counseling services and other small business services offered by SBA: your lender, www.SBA.gov and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Chapter or Women’s Business Center.