Mills Menser – President and Owner of Buchroeders

I start my days early, and I always have a list of the five things that must get done before I can leave the office.

Mills Menser, president and owner of Buchroeders, is a third-generation diamond dealer and entrepreneur who’s on a never-ending quest to improve customer service. He’s a Columbia, Missouri, native who purchased Buchroeders from his father in 2007.

Menser’s in-depth knowledge of the jewelry industry has served him well. He has successfully modified Buchroeders’ business model from a traditional jewelry store into a modern high-volume bridal boutique, and he’s constantly striving to improve Buchroeders through customer input. As a result, he promises to never be undersold by any online or brick-and-mortar store.

Since 1896, Buchroeders has been the leading provider of diamonds and engagement rings in the Midwest. Through the years, Buchroeders has transformed its business model, but what hasn’t changed is its focus on exceptional customer service and great value. Whether it’s an engagement ring or a diamond necklace, every guest is assisted from start to finish in this momentous purchase.

Where did the idea for Buchroeders come from?

Buchroeders was established in 1896, and in 2007, I purchased it from my father. I wanted to transform the company from a traditional retailer into a high-volume bridal boutique. We offer one of the largest selections of diamonds in the Midwest at true wholesale prices and with a luxurious buying experience.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

I like to start my day early. First, I engage in meetings that work on the growth and improvement of my business. Then, I start work in my business. My daily duties range from buying inventory to assisting customers to doing whatever else is needed to propel the company forward.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I like to put my ideas on paper. That way, I can construct a concrete roadmap that guides my actions. Then, I inspire and incentivize my staff members to get excited to execute the idea at hand.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The power of the Internet! The Internet has allowed Buchroeders’ unbeatable prices to be appreciated by the entire nation, and it has brought clarity and power to consumers regarding the wholesale value of diamonds.

To stay relevant, both online and brick-and-mortar companies must offer not only great service, but also the best diamond pricing. This trend is leading to consolidation in the industry and better pricing options for consumers, but it’s also allowing Buchroeders to gain more market share.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I start my days early, and I always have a list of the five things that must get done before I can leave the office.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

As a teenager, I worked as a parking lot attendant, and I discovered that I never wanted to find myself in a similar profession. Rather, I wanted a career that involved executing large transactions and that rewarded my ingenuity. I realized that you’re only limited by your personal drive, ambition, and ability.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I were to start over, I’d hire more qualified staff members and pay them based on their abilities sooner.

Currently, my employees’ compensation is tied to the results and profitability they produce. Our customers cast their votes with dollars. I find that when compensation is tied to results, employees develop a genuine sense of ownership. Those who achieve abnormal success should be compensated accordingly. My staff members aren’t just paid; they earn significantly more than the industry standard for their position because they’re significantly more talented.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I recommend that you look at your business operations through your customers’ eyes or as if you’re a hired consultant. This way, you can pinpoint your strengths as well as your weaknesses.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Finding unconventional ways to acquire inventory substantially below wholesale has been a huge growth factor for me. For example, I’ll buy out diamond dealers in financial distress or buy an entire jewelry store’s inventory if it’s liquidating. This style of buying removes all the hard costs of mining diamonds and manufacturing jewelry. Therefore, my costs are dependent upon how low I can negotiate them.

We sell to the end consumer, but we also sell to large diamond dealers in cities across the country, including New York City and Los Angeles. So this buying strategy allows me to give my customers unbeatable prices while still maintaining adequate margins. However, to capitalize on these opportunities, we have to have access to significant liquidity.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

From 2011 to 2012, I selected the wrong company to build, and I launched a wholesale diamond website without doing enough research. I had no idea what it would cost to properly market the site, and as a result, I blew through $50,000 without ever selling one diamond. I overcame this failure by learning critical lessons that I applied to my other business — the profitability of which was able to absorb the loss.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I have found that the world is full of people with great ideas, but implementation is key, and that is one secret I’ll keep to myself.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I have an acrobatic side that includes front handsprings and round-offs.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

RapNet, Kitco, and Scottrade are my go-to sites. They give me the most up-to-date information so I can properly execute transactions for my business.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Good to Great” by James Collins is a classic business book that I highly recommend. The book outlines the key traits that separate good companies from great companies. But this book’s key differentiator is that it’s based on facts and case studies, not merely on the author’s opinion.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My father, Michael Menser, has greatly influenced me. But I’m also constantly reading and soaking up information from other successful individuals, including Laurence Graff, a billionaire jeweler, and investor John Paulson.


Mills Menser’s Email: [email protected]