In 1938, Benjamin Appelt opened a watch repair shop beside a photography store in downtown Morden, recalled his grandson and now, CEO of Appelt's Diamonds Jeff Appelt.
When Benjamin became ill with polio and suffered a stroke, his son Bert came home from university where he was studying to become a teacher. He took over the business in order to put food on the table for his family. Although it was a sacrifice and, at one point, he tried to sell it, Bert learned to love the business and worked very hard to build the business by adding jewelry sales to the watch repair services and purchasing the other jewelry store in town at the time.
Tonight, at the Morden Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Banquet, Appelt's Diamonds will be getting a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing the 85th anniversary of the business in Morden.
Jeff gave his reaction on receiving the news.
"When I heard the news that we got the Lifetime Achievement Award, I was actually floored. I thought, 'Did we actually get it? Or we just nominated for it?' And then I realized we got the award, and I was very, very excited and I told my dad right away and he was excited, and he was proud. We both think of my grandpa, and his dad, that he would have been so proud to see that, because I never really got to know my grandpa and we've been around since 1938."
Jeff always knew he would be involved in business in some way, and he wanted it to be in his family business, so receiving this award is truly an honour.
"It's a long time that we've been around. Actually, my son's working in our stores now too. His name is Josh and he's 4th generation then, and there's not many businesses that go to 4 generations. I'm proud of my grandpa, my dad, and what my son has done and what all of our staff has done. It's been an honour to get that and receive it."
Appelt's Diamonds in Morden recently relocated and redesigned a state-of-the-art store, reopening on the corner of Stephen St and 8th in November 2022.
January, the business celebrated 85 years of serving the community.
"The secret to longevity is to always think of the business as a family business and to treat our employees very well. We try to have a good culture. We try and treat them as we want to be treated, and know people, talk to them by name, treat them like family. That's what it is."
Jeff's dream for the business is for his children to make it bigger and better than he has, and to see things that he hasn't seen, taking it to the next level.
He is grateful for the community support.
"I just love Morden. I love Morden. I love the people at Morden. Whenever I come to visit Morden, I see people that I know, and I talk to them about their families. You don't get that anywhere else. It's a family feeling just coming to Morden and I'm so happy we've had the support, not just from Morden, but the surrounding communities. It has been incredible to see the support from everyone in the area."
When he receives the award, he said he will be thinking about his grandpa a lot.