Richard Kessler separates from namesake company

Kesslers founder no longer working at diamond retailer

Richard kessler and Joe Gehrke

Richard Kessler, who founded Kesslers Diamonds in 1980, is no longer working at the diamond retailer. The company confirmed his departure on Nov. 7, but declined to provide specifics about it.

Richard Kessler and Joe Gehrke

“Since it is a personnel matter, we cannot share more detail,” the Kesslers board of directors said in a statement. “As a 100 percent employee owned company, our employee owners are committed to continue moving the company forward. We have had a leadership succession plan in place since July of 2017. Our clients can expect the same high quality of product and service going forward, including our miraculous warranty.”

Joe Gehrke, a longtime commercial banker at Associated Bank, was named president of Kesslers in June 2017, and Richard Kessler became chief executive officer in a planned succession. At that time, Kessler said it would take at least 18 months to onboard Gehrke, and he planned to transition out of the company at an undetermined time.

Kesslers formed an employee stock ownership plan in 2011, and transitioned the company to a 100 percent ESOP in 2016.

The retailer’s projected 2018 revenue is $35 million. It has grown to seven locations in the region and has plans to open a store near the Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets. Its rapid growth earned Kesslers a Future 50 Master Mettle award in September.

Get our email updates

Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.