The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019

New Laudick’s Jewelry owner living dream

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

While Mike Lichtle has spent the last couple of decades working for the Ohio Department of Transportation, he has also spent his spare time over the last quarter century repairing watches, jewelry, and other items for Laudick’s Jewelry.

New Laudick’s Jewelry owner Mike Lichtle (background center) welcomes a crowd of people to the store on South Shannon Street. photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

On Friday, The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, members of the Laudick family, and several other well-wishers helped Lichtle and his wife, Amanda, celebrate their purchase of Laudick’s — the first non-family members to own the business during its 70-year existence.

In addition to the Van Wert store, the Lichtle family also purchased the Laudick’s store in Coldwater.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to own it,” Mike Lichtle said, noting that he has worked for all three generations of the Laudick family since he first came looking for a job at the age of 16 in the mid-1990s.

Lichtle said he spent his first months working for the business landscaping the exterior of store, which had just finished relocating to its current South Shannon Street location.

Later, then-owner Steve Laudick asked him if he wanted to learn how to engrave, while family matriarch Rosella Laudick, widow of founder Robert Laudick, taught him how to properly wrap gift boxes.

“You talk about a class-act lady,” Lichtle said of Rosella Laudick, noting, though, that she wouldn’t let him wait on customers until he could make change in his head.

One thing led to another and Lichtle eventually became a jeweler by trade over the ensuing 25 years, able to handle even complex jewelry repair work and equipment.  

While Lichtle said it’s a bit scary leaving the regular paychecks of ODOT behind, he feels now is the time to follow his dream of owning a jewelry business. He said he wife is also a little nervous, but is fully supportive of his wanting to do something he really enjoys.

Lichtle said he has a lot of respect for Laudick family members, who taught him most of what he knows about the jewelry business. They return the respect, and former owners Steve and Deb Laudick, as well as the immediate past owner, daughter Katie Laudick-Harting, plan to help the Lichtles ensure there is a smooth transition and renew their commitment to their customers.

Mike Lichtle said Laudick family members were a little surprised when he told them he wanted to keep the family name on the stores, but he said he feels the name recognition and tradition will be a positive for the business.

“Everybody knows the Laudick name,” Lichtle said. “I want that tradition to stay alive.”

That even extends to keeping a picture of founder Bob Laudick in the store, which the new owner requested from Laudick family members after he and his wife bought it.

Former owner Steve Laudick said he thought it was great to have a new owner for the family business, and said he feels the Lichtles will do a good job.

Lichtle said he also plans to get his children involved in the business, noting that, if he does his job right, his children will always have something to fall back on when they grow up.

He added that he has always enjoyed repairing jewelry that people brought in looking the worse for wear and later loved the look on their faces when he returned the jewelry looking the way it did before it was broken. Lichtle said quick turnaround on watch and jewelry repair will continue to be a priority for him.

One area Lichtle said he would like to expand is the repurposing of heirloom jewelry: turning jewelry customers inherit into more modern pieces.

Hours for the business will be Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The business will be closed Sunday and Monday.

Van Wert Chamber members, Mayor Jerry Mazur, Laudick family members, staff and Lichtle family members were on hand when owner Mike Lichtle cut the ribbon to officially open the store under his ownership.

POSTED: 01/12/19 at 5:01 am. FILED UNDER: News