JON MICHAEL’S JEWELERS in downtown Durand is celebrating a transference of ownership. Shown in the only remaining jewelry store in Shiawassee County on Wednesday, June 29 are (from left) Karen Bump (sales associate), Kristy Sumner (manager), longtime owner/founder Jon Michael “Mike” Fuja and new owners, Jennifer Boyd and Darren Garrison.
“Very happy that the business will continue,” Fuja said. “Darren and Jennifer will do a wonderful job.”
A nearby jewelry/diamond wholesaler connected Fuja to Darren and Jennifer. At one point, Fuja thought he might have to close his business and sell his inventory, but was impressed with the couple and their background in jewelry. He is now looking forward to retirement and spending time with his wife.
This photo represents decades of experience, know-how and talent in the jewelry business.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
Jon Michael’s Jewelers on N. Saginaw St. in downtown Durand has roots dating back to 1979 and following 43 years in the jewelry business, owner Jon Michael Fuja is transferring the keys to Darren Garrison and Jennifer Boyd.
Sharing his story recently, Fuja explained, “It’s hard to comprehend that a new business my sister and my family put together back in 1979 is still surviving after all the issues we have had to deal with along the way. None of us had any experience running a retail business, but we were fortunate to bring along some excellent employees who kept us from too many errors along the way.”
Fuja stated he had hired into Chevrolet Metal Fabricating in 1967 as an apprentice die maker/machinist and worked for Chevy for 15 years before launching the jewelry business. “I first began making silver jewelry while still working nights for GM and fell in love with the process. I found out a distant uncle of my fathers was a jewelry manufacturer in Windsor, Canada and Detroit and spent a couple of years traveling there and learning the trade on weekends and holidays. Whatever talent my customers saw within me is directly attributed to Uncle Fred Kuczajda, who took me under his wing as if I were a long lost son.”
Fuja offered considerable credit to employees such as Maxine Kramer and Shirley Fuja. “Maxine has been with Jon Michael’s for 43 years, first in sales, then as a manager. Her dedication and devotion are beyond belief to my wife and I and one of the reasons this business is still in existence. Shirley (known forever as Aunt Pearly) came to us as an in-store accountant and back-up sales and remained for twenty years or so before retiring. I could never thank them enough for all they did for us.”
Fuja also highlighted Rose and Gordon Jennings. “I had more bench work than I could handle and the job count continued to increase noticeably. Rose came with some basic bench experience, which we then expanded upon by further training. By 1981, we were doing wholesale repairs for our store, three of the Fox Jewelers chain and a steady stream of new jewelry we were manufacturing ourselves after the purchase of Fayrick Mfg., Inc. – Uncle Fred’s Detroit business. Gordon Jennings became my go-to person for almost anything I needed.” Rose and Gordon Jennings have passed away and are greatly missed, Fuja shared.
Following health issues in recent years, Fuja hired Gregg Todd to “keep up with our customer’s demands.” Todd worked for Fuja in the early 1980s, left to teach in Texas, held a position with the Stuller Company in Louisiana, wrote a book on jewelry repair and later returned to Durand.
“Gregg is singlehandedly responsible for elevating Jon Michael’s repairs and new jewelry items to a new level of expertise and our thanks go to him on our journey of success,” offered Fuja.
Regarding Darren Garrison and Jennifer Boyd, the new owners, Darren has 35-plus years in jewelry repair and custom design, with much of his experience coming from his ownership of Gold Designers Manufacturing of the Swartz Creek area. Jennifer has 20 years in the field, particularly in sales and management and recently joined Darren at his Swartz Creek site. She is looking forward to their partnership at Jon Michael’s Jewelers.
Darren and Jennifer are engaged and plan to marry in 2023. They are looking forward to celebrating their new business and their personal endeavors – and would like to invite the community to Jon Michael’s Jewelers in Durand. The couple hopes to maintain, “that hometown feel,” but will be adding some new trends. The store will keep the name and will offer custom design, on site jewelry repair and a variety of retail pieces. Watch for an upcoming announcement on a grand re-opening event.