Staying Power: Like the jewelry and watches it sells, The Richter & Phillips Co. is built to last

CINCINNATI - WCPO is pleased to introduce a new Monday feature. "Staying Power" will focus on local businesses, most of them family-owned, that have what it takes to survive and thrive for 25 years or more. Our first company fits the bill, and then some!

The Richter & Phillips Co.


(Photo provided by the Richter & Phillips Co., circa 1960) 

 

What: Family-owned diamond and jewelry store
Founded: 1896
Where: 202 E. Sixth Street, Cincinnati
Number of employees: 15

Known for: fine diamonds (loose and set); fine Swiss watches; bridal jewelry lines; watch and jewelry repair (most done on site)

History

It was the near the close of the 19th Century when C. Edward Richter and three brothers named Phillips opened a store in downtown Cincinnati. The shop offered many different items to its initial customers, with the emphasis on jewelry.

Traveling salesmen fanned out all over the country with large trunks full of jewelry, selling to other companies. The storeroom displayed jewelry, diamonds, and gifts. Richter & Phillips also offered catalog shopping. Customers around the country to order jewelry, gifts, luggage, purses, trophies, plaques, clocks, electrical appliances, sporting goods, musical instruments, dolls and toys.

Under the leadership of its founders, the store, catalog business and traveling salesmen network thrived for the first 40 years. In 1930, however, suffering from the Great Depression, the company was forced to file for bankruptcy.

Frederick W. Fehr, a traveling diamond salesman working for a different company, took his loose diamonds to the 2nd National bank, where he got a loan to buy the store and keep it open. Over the next few years Fehr (pictured below, photo courtesy of The Richter & Phillips Co.) bought out all remaining stockholders.

Fehr retired in 1972 at 90 years old and handed the business over to his son, Fred Fehr, Jr. In 1982, after Fred Fehr Jr.’s son, Frederick W. Fehr, III (Rick) joined the staff, assuming control of diamond and gemstone purchasing and sales. Fred Fehr, Jr.’s other son, Arthur Fehr (Art), joined the staff in the early 1990s.

Meet the Boss: Rick Fehr

Lifelong Cincinnatian Rick Fehr (above, photo provided by The Richter & Phillips Co.) attended St. Xavier High School and Miami University and is a graduate gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.). He and wife Nancy have three children.

Fehr said he believes that treating each and every customer like “he himself would like to be treated” is one ingredient to the Richter & Phillips success story.

Q&A

1. Who are your customers?

In general, Greater Cincinnatians of all types within a 50-mile radius, but we have many customers in all 50 states and even some international clients.

2. What’s great about doing business in Cincinnati?

The down-to-earth people here who appreciate and understand quality and value.

3. What’s challenging about doing business in Cincinnati?

Every major chain jewelry store as well as many strong independents [here in the area] present as competitive of a region as anywhere in the country. So we had better be on our game, making sure we take care of each and every customer.

4. What has proven to be the key to your business’s longevity?

The great people on our staff. Mr brother, Art, and father, Fred, are also owners and are still active. Our sales/support staff have been with us (combined) for over 200 years! Also, our huge selection has added to our longevity.

5. Fill in the blank: “I bet you didn’t know...”

That we have four G.I.A. Graduate Gemologists on staff and that we have an in-house watch and jewelry repair facility. Also, that my brother, Art, has quadruplets who are now 13 years old!”

Connect with The Richter & Phillips Company

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.