Working in Clark County: Joe Lanning: Jewelry repairman

By Mary Ricks, Columbian news assistant



Joe Lanning has always been a person who could fix things. He was tired of having to relocate for his retail job, so he headed off in a new direction. Lanning took classes in diamond setting and jewelry repair and launched his own jewelry business. "I like the customers' reaction when they pick up their jewelry after it's cleaned and repaired. They get the enjoyment of wearing something that belonged to their parents or grandparents," he said.

Name: Joe Lanning.

Job/employer: Owner of My Jeweler in downtown Vancouver.

Age: 66.


Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columb...; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Background: After I graduated from high school, I attended community college and worked part time for J.C. Penney in downtown Portland. I had been accepted into the company's management training program. Then I got my draft notice for the Army. After my discharge, I went back to J.C. Penney for 12 more years and moved around to several cities. A friend was in the jewelry business in Richland, and thought it would be a good business for me, too. In 1980, I completed a diamond-setting course in Portland and learned different techniques of setting stones and doing repair work, wax carving and casting. We moved to Richland, where I did jewelry repair for a couple of years and then moved back to Portland. I started my own business in downtown Vancouver in 1986.

Residence: The Heights.

One word to describe yourself: Quiet.

Most rewarding part of job: I like the customers’ reaction when they pick up their jewelry. Many times, someone will bring in a piece of jewelry, maybe a ring that was their mother’s or grandmother’s, and they want to be able to wear it. After I have cleaned, polished and/or repaired it, they are amazed how it looks compared to what it looked like when they brought it in. It might be a sentimental piece and now they get the enjoyment of wearing something that belonged to their parents or grandparents.

Most challenging part of job: Meeting a customer's expectation. The customer has an idea in their mind of what they want and it isn't always possible to make that happen. Sometimes it is hard to make them realize what they want isn't possible.

Personal/business philosophy: Growing up working for J.C. Penney, I learned a customer should be given the value that is expected. I want to treat customers as I want to be treated.

Something you would like to do over: I don't know that I would do things over. If I had known that gold was going to increase in value like it has, I would have bought more before it went up in price. I try not to dwell on the past.

Best feature of my community: I opened my store in Vancouver because it felt like what we used to think of as hometowns. People in Vancouver were more concerned with their neighbors than people in Portland.

What would make your community a better place: Our community, state and nation would all be better if we had more manufacturing jobs.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Jerusalem Cafe is a favorite. We also like Sweet Tomatoes.

Hobbies: None in particular. I work in the yard and we go to the movies a lot.

Volunteer activities: I was involved in the downtown association for years, but not at this time.

Favorite travel destination: We like to visit old friends on the East Coast.

Most interesting book in last 12 months: I am reading "The Game of Thrones" now. I read a lot of fantasy.

Most interesting play/movie/arts event: I saw "Monuments Men" and I thought that was well done. I also liked "The Book Thief."

One thing you want to do this year: My biggest goal is to not work as many hours.

Something you want to do within five years: I have always been the kind of person to take things one day at a time. I believe if you plan too far out, you have a tendency to set yourself up for disappointment.

Person you'd most like to meet: I would like to meet Warren Buffett. He has a lot of values in business that I think are important to everybody. I like the fact that he doesn't buy a company and tear it apart.

Person you'd least like to meet: After seeing "The Monuments Men" and "The Book Thief" movies, I would have liked to have been the one to kill Hitler.