Posts Tagged ‘Marc Bridge’

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Ben Bridge Buyers in Las Vegas: Days 2 and 3

June 6, 2010

The 11 strong Ben Bridge buying team checks out all the latest products at the JCK Show in Las Vegas and has a little bit of fun!

Highlights include lots of beautiful Italian gold jewelry and giant Victorinox Swiss Army watches (read: Wall Clocks) as well as stopping by the “Kardashian Suite” in the Venetian to visit our friends at Gucci. We got to spend some time with supermodel Amber Valletta and Lisa ogled a tiny little bauble (35 carat D Flawless Emerald Cut).

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Live from Las Vegas: Day 1

June 3, 2010

The Ben Bridge buying team explores the latest offerings at the Couture Show in Las Vegas, June 3, 2010.

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Omaha Round Up (with video!)

May 3, 2010

It was a fun weekend in Omaha!

The Oracle was in typically fine form–answering questions all day about topics ranging from Goldman Sachs (he was supportive), derivatives (they continue to be dangerous when parties don’t understand them), and the long term prospects for the US (bullish). Even the usually taciturn Charlie Munger piped in with a few gems and added to the levity of the day. At one point a questioner asked about how to cope with potentially high interest rates in the future. Munger, 86, responded, “If I can be optimistic when I’m nearly dead, you all can handle inflation.”

Before the meeting began, there was a very amusing movie featuring Warren and Charlie and a few friends. This year’s movie included ABC’s Desperate Housewives plotting to land a billionaire and ending up with Charlie. Another segment had Warren pitching for the Boston Red Sox and striking out Alex Rodriguez to win the AL pennant. The movie included a preview of a new animated series called “The Secret Millionaires Club,” where Warren teaches kids about financial literacy.

There was also a cool video showing the history of Berkshire’s latest acquisition, Burlington Northern Santa Fe. BNSF dates back to 1849 and the railroad “Empire Builder” James J. Hill. BNSF has played an integral part in the growth of the United States and it is exciting to have the railroad as part of the Berkshire family.

Another highlight of the event is the chance to visit many Berkshire companies in the convention hall adjacent to the arena where the meeting takes place. Companies ranging from See’s Candy to Justin Boots, Dairy Queen, GEICO, and Fruit of the Loom hawk their wares to shareholders. Watch the video for more on that.

Because of the growth of the meeting, to get good seats we had to be in line at 5:45am! As unpleasant as it sounds to stand outside in the cold Omaha morning, waiting to get in only adds to the festival atmosphere of the meeting. It is so much fun to meet shareholders from all over the world and swap stories about meetings past, the boss, and speculate as to what Warren’s take will be on a great many issues.

It is truly a unique weekend–unlike anything else I have ever been to and likely unmatched by anything in the world. It is a fitting tribute to one of the world’s most admired and distinctive companies.

I look forward to next year’s meeting and encourage you to make plans to get to Omaha at least once for a spectacle unlike any other.

-Marc

From the floor at BRKFest 2010!

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Off to see the Oracle: Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting 2010

April 29, 2010

Warren Buffett and Marc Bridge, Ben Bridge Headquarters, May 2009

For the past ten years, Ben Bridge has been a proud member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies. Every year a number of us from the company join the thousands of pilgrims who make the trek to Omaha, Nebraska for the annual meeting that has been called “Woodstock for Capitalists”. This year is no exception.

Marc will be blogging from Omaha this weekend, and if he is really nice to her, our favorite travel blogger Lisa might contribute a word or two!

Last year more than 35,000 shareholders filled Omaha’s Qwest Center (and a number of nearby overflow rooms) to listen to 6 hours of questions and answers with Berkshire Chairman Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger. With the purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, the stock split, and the company’s addition to the S&P 500 Index, thousands of new shareholders will be flocking to the Cornhusker State to learn from the masters.

“The Warren and Charlie Show”, as it is affectionately known, regularly covers topics as far reaching as the relative performance of the US economy, the impact of derivatives and government regulation, the rise of China, what small children should do with their lives, and every once in a while touches on the performance of Berkshire businesses in between bites of See’s Peanut Brittle and Cherry Coke. (Berkshire owns See’s Candy and is the largest shareholder in Coca-Cola).

In addition to the meeting itself, the weekend has sprawled into a celebration of business, investing, old-fashioned American values, and Omaha steaks. It is as much a carnival as a business meeting and the perfect embodiment of the Chairman’s worldview.

It is always an enjoyable, educational, and fun weekend. I hope you will check back periodically for updates from BRKfest 2010!

-Marc

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Ben Bridge Stories: Marc Bridge

November 4, 2009

We hope to share with you some of the stories of the people in the Ben Bridge family who make the company so unique. I wanted to start with someone more interesting, but since everyone else has real work to do, I figured I could start with myself.

With luck this will be the start of a series, stay tuned and please let me know what you think.

-Marc

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At the opening of our University Village store, Seattle, Summer 2008

 “Hi, my name is Marc Bridge.”

Often when I introduce myself to customers they do a momentary double-take.

“Bridge, as in Ben Bridge?” they ask.

Yes, I reply, and explain that along with my sister Lisa and cousin Rebecca, I am a member of the fifth generation of our family to work in the company.

“I never realized there really were any Bridges,” they often reply.

This used to surprise me. Of course there are Bridges, I thought; just take a look around the store: my Grandfather Bob and Uncle Herb are up on the wall over there and next to them there is a picture of Ben (my great-grandfather) standing in the store on Pike Street in Seattle.

As I grew up, I came to realize the response was perfectly understandable. In a world where so much is impersonal it is easy to assume store names are little more than marketing slogans. So many of the other jewelers have family names above their doors but the families are long gone. There is no Tiffany at Tiffany and there hasn’t been for generations. No Zale at Zales, Kay at Kay, nor Cartier at…well, I think you get the picture.

I suppose in our family we just never got the memo.

Not everyone in our family has been directly involved in the business, certainly. Some of my uncles and cousins became lawyers, rabbis, doctors, and filmmakers. But in my case, I couldn’t imagine anything better.

My first job was working in our office on Saturdays as a little kid. When our mom needed a break from what I am sure was the ceaseless joy of raising Lisa and me, she would send us to work with dad. He paid us 25 cents an hour to go through old job envelopes to make sure there weren’t bits of scrap metal or stones left behind. If we found something (and it only happened once or twice) we got a 25 cent bonus.

We loved coming to the office because it meant running around the halls, playing hide and seek under all the desks, and racing up and down the ramp where all the office supplies were kept. To a five-year old, nothing is cooler than a gold embossing sticker and a four foot tall stack of manila file folders. (I suppose some things never change).

Vacations in the Bridge family often meant a week in Southern California. We are big fans of Disneyland, so a day riding Splash Mountain and the Matterhorn would be the reward after six days criss-crossing LA freeways visiting stores. We learned to clean the glass and make popcorn and Italian sodas for Diamond Shows. I was surprised when I got back to school and learned my fourth-grade friends hadn’t spent most of their spring breaks in shopping centers too.

I started working in the store formally before I had my driver’s license. It still amazes me that anyone bought anything from 15 year-old munchkin Marc. Dad had to fill out a form like the one they use for kids working on family farms: Marc won’t work during school hours, he will be supervised, he won’t operate heavy machinery, etc.

I spent almost every summer and school holiday from then on in the stores. Mostly in the Downtown Seattle flagship store with sojourns to Bellevue Square on Seattle’s Eastside and Ala Moana Center in Honolulu (great gig, but that’s another story).

It was the best education I could have hoped to receive. I realized what my dad had always said—sharing special moments in people’s lives is fun. To be able to help a young man pick out the perfect engagement ring or to assist a couple celebrating a special birthday or anniversary is the best job in the world. We get to play with beautiful things and make people happy all day long. What could be better?

Much to my mother’s chagrin, I strayed (temporarily) from Seattle for school, first for college at Washington University in St. Louis and then for graduate school at the London School of Economics.

I came home to attend law school at the University of Washington and momentarily entertained the notion of becoming a lawyer. I worked for a summer during law school at one of the oldest and largest law firms in Seattle and really enjoyed pretending to be a transactional attorney.

As great an intellectual challenge as that would have been, I realized what on some level I knew all along: my heart was at Ben Bridge.

I graduated from law school in June, took the bar exam in July, and started at Ben Bridge in August. (My dad gives me a bad time because he claims to have graduated from college on a Friday and started work the next Monday. I guess the work ethic is slipping around here!). Today I assist my cousin Jon (Co-CEO with Ed, my dad) with the legal work and get to try out new ventures like this “internet” thing.

As much fun as it is to sit behind a desk, there is still nothing I like to do more than help a customer find a wonderful piece of jewelry. A fine jewelry purchase is so much more fun and fulfilling in person than in the abstract. Dealing with figures, leases and technology are necessary and important, but ultimately it is the diamond that is forever and the customer that is our reason for being.

I am so blessed to have been able to grow up in such a wonderful company surrounded by incredibly dedicated and talented people.

I look forward to the journey ahead.