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About James Avery Craftsman

<img src="http://secure.jamesavery.com/images/about/about-ja_photo.jpg" width="420"> Fifty-three years after he first founded the company, James Avery officially stepped down as CEO in May 2007 and passed the reigns to his son Chris. He is still involved with the company and many days you can find him pursuing what he loves -- creating new design ideas out of his office at the corporate headquarters in Kerrville. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in the Chicago area, James Avery was first introduced to the scenic Texas Hill Country, by way of the U.S. Air Corps. Cadet Avery landed in San Antonio where he was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. Here he found inspiring surroundings and a “can do” attitude in the people. James completed pilot training and commanded a B-26 bomber, surviving 44 missions over Germany. After World War II, he attended the University of Illinois and received a B.F.A. in Industrial Design. He pursued college level teaching, and while at the University of Colorado, he explored jewelry-making techniques with his students. In 1950, he thought about leaving the teaching profession. It was also about this time that he returned to the church after years of being a defensive agnostic. “My renewed Christian commitment, along with my new decision to leave teaching, led to a new direction in my life. This is the reason so much of my work is Christian symbolism.” In 1954, James spent the summer in Kerrville, Texas along with his wife, visiting his in-laws. “It was during this time that I decided to go into business.” “I worked alone for three years. Ideas, plenty of hard work and prayers (not necessarily in that order) were the rule of each day.” Word spread and people found their way to the craftsman in the hills. Each one who came would be greeted personally and with cordial gratitude. It was in this setting that strong and lasting customer bonds developed, those on which this company would grow and build upon for over half a century. The future looks promising for James Avery. Now with sons Chris and Paul aboard as CEO/President and Executive Vice-President, the company is in good hands with another 50 years to look forward to. One man’s dream has ignited the passion of an extended team carrying a product, a set of values, and a commitment to doing all things well across our land. <img src="http://secure.jamesavery.com/images/about/about-ja_photo3.jpg" width"420"> <img src="http://secure.jamesavery.com/images/about/about-ja_photo4.jpg" width"420"> <img src="http://secure.jamesavery.com/images/about/about-ja_photo5.jpg" width"420"> From the very beginning, James Avery has believed in integrity and good taste in all matters. Our jewelry must be as pleasant to wear as it is to see. Our designers create jewelry that is functional as well as expressive, and our crafts people work with dedication and skill to ensure each design is as it should be, from concept to completion. The Avery Look is nothing new. It has no pretense of being so. It tries to assimilate and reflect many cultures and the art of those cultures. One might say that The Avery Look is an attempt to embody an insight into all ages and periods of artistic achievement. It is difficult to define. However, some of the attributes and values from The Avery Look have grown into a company philosophy. Each piece of jewelry should pass the tests of Simplicity, Integrity, Meaning and Universality. These four “founding values” are deeply carved into wood planks hanging prominently on the solid stone walls of our present-day Design Studio. It’s a constant reminder of what we believe. “I do not consider myself a jeweler as the name implies today. Rather, I like to think of myself as an artist presently concentrating in the precious metal media. I think the creative problems in designing jewelry are the same in any design field, but with the wearability dimension added. I strive to keep designs from being contrived, cluttered, or cute. The challenge is to keep things simple.” <img src="http://secure.jamesavery.com/images/about/art/about-art_photo3.jpg" width"420"> In the summer of 1954, James Avery started his jewelry business in a two-car garage with about $250 in capital. He built a small workbench, then bought a few hand tools and scraps of silver and copper. It was his desire to create jewelry that had meaning for him and his customers as well as having lasting value. In 1957, he mailed his first Christian jewelry catalog. It was 16 pages and featured 39 items, all handmade. This was the year he also hired his first employee, Fred Garcia. “I had been doing everything myself – designing, sawing, polishing, finishing and selling. I thought ‘what am I going to do? I can’t saw that fast!” In his honor, the company now awards a yearly scholarship that bears Fred’s name. The company was incorporated to James Avery Craftsman, Inc. in 1965, and two years later with the help of a modest loan from the SBA, the company headquarters was constructed on 20 acres in the heart of the Texas Hill Country in Kerrville, Texas, not too far from that original garage. In 1988 James Avery received a San Antonio Entrepreneur of the Year award. Today we, as a company, offer fine jewelry designs in sterling silver, 14K and 18K yellow and white gold, and gemstones for ladies and men, and maintain some 1100 designs and 14,000 separate jewelry items in the active product line. In order to maintain the quality and responsiveness essential to a successful business, we are vertically-integrated, meaning we design, manufacture, market and sell our own product line. We even maintain in-house graphics and photography as well as internal architecture and furniture-making capabilities to keep the customer’s experience a special one. The strategic goals of the company include a three-prong effort of reaching and satisfying our customers through retail stores, mail order and on the internet. James Avery has five manufacturing plants – one each in Hondo, Fredericksburg, and Kerrville, Texas and two in Comfort, Texas. Our retail stores are located in Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Colorado, and Louisiana, with a total of 44 retail stores at the end of 2007. <img src="http://secure.jamesavery.com/images/about/business/about-biz_photo2.jpg" width"420"> <img src="http://secure.jamesavery.com/images/about/business/about-biz_photo5.jpg" width"420">