Ray Wright, the owner of Wright Jewelers, is a man who built his life and business success on the principles learned as a child growing up on a 400-acre cattle farm in Cleveland, Tennessee. Among those was a work ethic to do whatever it took to get the job done correctly and a commitment to excellence in everything he undertook. These simple concepts have served him well throughout his life and helped make him the man he is today.
Ray knew from an early age he had enthusiasm and talent for making jewelry. By the time he was 8 years old, he was making beaded necklaces for his mother with whatever he could find around the farm.
As time went on, he continued to mesh his physical talent with his innovative and creative ideas to make unique pieces of jewelry. One example was crafting rings from stainless-steel nuts his father had given to him. After the basic ring was formed, he then used a saw blade to create an inlay design. From that unlikely start, he managed to create a remarkable item of jewelry he would ultimately sell to friends and family. Ray had no idea this experience would set the stage for his future.
As a senior in high school, Ray had satisfied most of his class requirements ahead of schedule. Seeing an opportunity, he once again demonstrated his commitment to hard work and his entrepreneurial spirit by using the extra time before athletic practice to make his rings in shop class. He then sold the rings for $10 each and pocketed roughly $100. He laughs and says he was the “richest guy in school.”
After graduating from college, Ray convinced Maryville Jewelers to give him an opportunity to repair jewelry. Once on the job, he impressed the owner with his ability to generate three times the number of daily repairs of any of the other jewelers. As a result of his proficiency and his ever-present work ethic, he soon became the primary jeweler for the store.
One day the owner asked what he wanted out of life. Ray responded all he really needed was, "a nice car, a nice house and to be able to eat a steak once a week." And from his “young” perspective, that seemed enough.
As his career progressed and his talents became more widely known, Ray was recruited by Frank Varallo, owner of Rone Regency Jewelers. He remembers fondly the day Frank asked him how many repairs he could complete in a day. When Ray responded with a number, Frank laughed, thinking it was empty boasting. Needless to say, it was not! At that time, Frank probably truly understood what is meant by the old adage of, “It’s not bragging if you can do it.”
Ray’s motto is simple: “Small business is easy if you just do what you say you will do!”
Ray views his business as more than just a business; it's an extension of his home. He and his team (including his two dogs) invite you into their “other home” with smiles and a feeling of welcoming. Few things give him more pleasure and inspiration than to see the joy on a customer’s face when a piece of jewelry they have entrusted to him is returned in the beautiful condition he promised.
Ray is a man who recognizes the simplicity of what brings true joy to his heart—his wife, his two dogs and a business that he loves and can be proud of. And it doesn’t hurt he has also been able to realize the aspirations from his "younger" self—“… a nice car, a nice house and to be able to eat a steak once a week!”