When describing her work with Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Rebecca Coffey uses the words “goosebumps” and “uplifting”. It’s not surprising, as the certified jeweler works with one-of-a-kind gems, watches and settings every day. But it’s not the jewelry Coffey is talking about, but the atmosphere, culture and opportunities she’s experienced at Reis-Nichols that has her gushing.
As Reis-Nichols celebrates 100 years in business, the company is taking small business values and a passion for the community and paying it forward with its 100 Acts of Kindness program.
“I think it is unprecedented,” Coffey says of the program. “I thought I was proud to work for Reis-Nichols before, but I’m so grateful to be part of this, I think it’s wonderful. I have never worked for a company that gives back at this level and does it so joyfully, it gives me goosebumps.”
Giving back to the community is nothing new for the team at Reis-Nichols, but President BJ Nichols says celebrating a century in business was reason enough to take the company’s community service and philanthropy to another level.
Acts of kindness have ranged from small moments like a flower truck outside the store for clients, to large gestures, like working to build a home for a mother and daughter through the Indianapolis Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, each department within the company was challenged to find a cause or charity to serve. And if that wasn’t enough, individually, each employee was given time to participate in a service project of their choosing, during traditional work hours.
For Coffey and the rest of the jewelers, caring for those who care for others was their target. Coffey says the department created care packages and goodie bags for nurses at St. Vincent Hospital. They focused on the NICU staff and even provided a dinner (or lunch) for nurses during both the day and night shifts.
“By doing this, kindness spreads out like ripples on a pond,” Coffey says. “There’s a movie called “Pay it Forward” and I hope that what we’re doing for our community has a similar impact. I’ve donated my time before, but to be in a place that does it too makes me feel wonderful. It is inspiring and uplifting. This is the way life should be.”
The reaction and outpouring of support and happiness from the employees even surprised BJ Nichols himself, who says he expected the staff to jump on board, but the reality was even better.
“It has been excellent, maybe even better than we expected,” Nichols says with a laugh. “The project has been about giving back to the community, clients and employees—the people who have given us the opportunity to be in business over the last 100 years.”
Because people have the ability to order anything online at any time, setting themselves apart is imperative. Nichols says the company’s mission to provide superior customer service with honesty and respect along with unparalleled merchandise and professionalism, is even more important than ever to the success of the business. The family business focuses on the employees, just as much as the customers, because Nichols says success starts with those representing the overall business.
“Giving back has always been something we do because it fits in with how I was raised,” he explains.
“I think this project is having a huge impact because it is something that has connected with our employees. In the current market, attracting and retaining employees is a challenge and this project is a way that we can build on our corporate culture. We began to realize we needed to continue to put even more focus on being an ‘employee first’ company. In this competitive job market, we know that if you are going to find and retain the best employees you have to let them know that you care. You can see it really matters to them; you can teach people skills but you can’t teach them how to care.”
One mainstay of the Reis-Nichols’ giving happens all year around with the watch battery initiative. Known throughout the Midwest for their Swiss timepieces, Reis-Nichols never charges to replace a battery. Instead it is suggested that the customer make a monetary donation. At the end of each month funds collected are donated to the company’s charity of choice.
Cassidy Wittrig, who works as a sales consultant, says she participated in the group’s Habitat for Humanity build, which left a lasting impression. She adds through the 100 Acts of Kindness program the company has given each employee the book, 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently, which she describes as an inspiring read. Wittrig also says the company surprised customers with free Starbucks, donated $100 to charities around Indiana and other gestures big and small.
“This is more than just a job,” Wittrig says, “So many people go to their nine to five and they’re not doing anything and not moving forward. For us, we feel like we’re making a difference in the customer’s lives and the communities that we live in.”
Sponsored by Reis-Nichols Jewelers