Behind the List with Ronald Leitzel
president and CEO of Mountz Jewelers
Q: What do you feel sets Mountz Jewelers apart from other jewelry stores?
A: First and foremost, I think it's our professional employees that sets us apart. We have graduate gemologists, certified watchmakers (and) master goldsmiths, all with the proper education of how to do things.
I think the other thing is the inventory. We carry the largest selection of fashion designs, designers and national brands, whether it's Hearts on Fire, Rolex or John Hardy. These are names and designers you find in mostly metropolitan areas. One of our strategic initiatives has always been to bring these more-exclusive brands to Central Pennsylvania.
What process does a gemstone take to end up in a Pennsylvania store?
We hand-select every diamond and gemstone you see in any of our three locations. As I mentioned before about the certified gemologists and appraisers we have on staff, there are only 400 of these people nationwide with that certificate or graduate degree. These are the people helping me and my sister, Tonia, to pick the gemstones we feel are the most brilliant to present to our customers. We have great connections, great rapport with our diamond site holders and cutters because of the many years I've been in business and the relationships I've built over the years. It's a pretty short trip from the Earth's crust to Mountz Jewelers, eliminating a lot of middle people from the industry. It comes directly to us.
Have there been physical changes to your retail buildings in recent years?
I've had Mountz Jewelers for 35 years. It originally started as a downtown location and then progressed to mall locations. My goal has always been to be out in a freestanding building, and that is where we are now with the three Mountz Jewelers buildings having freestanding buildings. That's the biggest change in how we've evolved over the years. It gives our customers much more convenience with shopping.
We are still constantly upgrading and expanding. Our Camp Hill store, we're in the process of adding additional retail space, so we have a larger bridal area and we're creating a larger Rolex environment in the store. We're always moving forward to give our customers a better environment.
What factors should a person consider when searching for a professional to do jewelry repair?
For sure, it's important to have people working on the jewelry on the premises, in house. We have jewelers and professionally trained goldsmiths in house, and they're the ones touching your jewelry. It's not being shipped out. We have the latest equipment. It's kept in the vault at night and secured, and it's insured. All my stores have the latest laser welders, which gives a better way to work on jewelry, whether it's new, used or owned, or estate jewelry. That's going to be the starting equipment that is really the foundation of repair in this day and age.
Not only can our stores sketch, but we can design rings for you right in front of you — yellow gold, white gold, platinum, four-prong or six-prong head, multiple diamonds. We can create this for you. What you're seeing is built on the computer screen.
Probably the most important thing is longevity in business and the reputation of the stores.
How do gold prices compare to five years ago?
Five years ago, in 2009, gold was around $900 an ounce and it was on its way up very rapidly. We were in very unstable times. In September 2011, gold hit over $1,900, so in two years, gold went from $900 to $1,900. This caused instability in our business in pricing metal products that were gold. Today and in the past couple years, gold has stabilized around the $1,200 to $1,300 price range, so that has helped us keep prices a little more stable and keeps us from going crazy trying to price things out.
About Ronald Leitzel
Leitzel followed his father, Marvin Leitzel, into the jewelry business and says he wants to live up to the level of hard work and integrity set by his father. He continues to work with his sister, Tonia Ulsh.
Leitzel and his wife, Barbara, live in Cumberland County. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.
In his spare time, Leitzel enjoys golfing. He is a history lover who collects antiques and artifacts such as coins.