This year marks Miles Franklin’s 25th year in business. It also is David and Susan Schectman’s 50th wedding anniversary. 25 years in business is a milestone. 50 years with Susan is even more impressive and frankly, without her help, in every way, emotional, intellectual and financial, Miles Franklin never would have succeeded.
I may have started Miles Franklin, but Susan was there to cheer the company on, and help support it with her bank account when times were very difficult in the late 1990s.
For the last decade, Miles Franklin evolved due to Andy Schectman’s leadership and forward thinking. I built Miles Franklin into a respected and successful company. Andy further nurtured it into a large, great company.
Most of the companies in our industry started out as small local coin dealers. Before 1975 no one was buying “bullion.” It was actually illegal to own gold – unless you were a collector of numismatic coins.
The industry would never have grown beyond the small local coin dealer level if it weren’t for economic events; events that fostered serious inflation and got people to thinking about the wisdom of saving in paper currency. And so our industry sprung to life in the mid to late 1970s and along with it came a specialty area of financial newsletters and investment seminars. I was there, early on, and subscribed to the newsletters and spoke at the seminars. By the late 1980s, I even started to write articles myself.
When I decided to start Miles Franklin in 1989, we had no client base, no following and very little capital. It amazes me to this day that we were able to survive, and even flourish. The early 1990s was no time to try and start up a precious metals company. I attribute it to doing things RIGHT, and not to luck. There is room for a new business that offers value. Our annual sales continued to rise throughout the years. It took a while, but here we are today, 25 years later, with thousands of clients. Who says the American Dream is dead? Not in these parts!
Miles Franklin was founded on “value” and “fair” pricing, not on price alone. There will always be someone willing to sell for less and they are the ones at risk of failing.
Price is not everything. In the end, you get what you pay for. Firms that give away their merchandise usually run into trouble or they fail. They don’t offer service or value; they only offer price. I’ll tell you what they don’t offer. They don’t offer education! They don’t offer personalized one-on-one client service by well-informed and honest brokers! They don’t offer endorsements by the icons of our industry! We do – all of it. Plus, there are zero delivery and service complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau for our firm!
I’ve been thinking about this recently. We have several billion dollar’s worth of product out there – and an aging client base. We have been stock piling clients for two and a half decades and most were in their 40s or older to begin with. A majority of our client base are my age or older. Look around at the audience at the financial seminars. Guess what’s missing. Young people! Our experience is that when the parents pass on, the children almost always liquidate the assets, especially gold and silver, because unlike their parents, they do not understand why these assets are so critical. To them, gold and silver are just another form of dollars. And how could it be any different? Most of the stock brokers, money managers and financial advisors that descended upon my generation despised gold and silver. Gold was an afterthought or something to be avoided entirely and who in their right mind would own silver? But one or two percent of Americans decided to think for themselves. What brought them to understand that gold and silver are money and are the bedrock of a strong portfolio? Education, that’s what. No one ever bought gold or silver without first learning why they are necessary financial assets. And that is exactly why I founded Miles Franklin on education.
I believe the day will come when product from the normal dealer/wholesale channels will be scarce, or not available. What will our clients do? Where will anyone be able to buy gold and silver? Because of our decades in business and the huge amount of gold and silver we have already sold, plus the fact that we have relationships with most of our clients, we should have a constant flow of product back to us for resale from our clients or their estates, which we will use to take care of your needs. Those of you loyal to Miles Franklin will have the inside track on precious metals, when none is available from the usual sources.
Back to our humble beginnings… I started Miles Franklin in 1989 with two employees. One was a precious metals broker and stockbroker who I worked with at IRI and the other was my son Andy, a 20-year-old fresh from two years in college. Andy has spent more than half his life working for Miles Franklin and I have spent nearly one-third of mine. Together we spent the first two years building Miles Franklin using Swiss Annuities and some precious metals sales as our only source of revenue.
My son Andy was only 20 when he joined me and though he had some sales experience, he had no financial background or economic background, but he learned the business fast. Watching Andy grow as a person, and in our industry for the last 24 years, has been a great experience for me. The transition from boy to man is a work in progress. I can honestly say Andy has exceeded my greatest expectations. He is not only one of the most talented people in our industry, he is honest, caring and of the highest moral character. The firm is blessed to have him, and so are his mother and I. (He is also a great husband, fantastic father, poker player, golfer and skier.)
Make no mistake; Miles Franklin in 2014 is all about Andy Schectman. My time is past, though I am still involved. I still participate in our bi-monthly management team meetings and have the final say in major business decisions though they are usually a joint effort. I still do a lot of reading and research every day and I put together the Featured Articles section of our newsletter. Several days a week I share some of my own thoughts. But at heart, I am still the same existential fun-loving guy with a great wife that I’ve been for the last 50-years.
Enjoying life at my age (72) while I am still healthy and fit, is the first thing on my to-do list. I have the luxury of knowing that my company is in very good hands. I am an asset to the firm, but a few years ago I decided to pass the torch on to Andy. It is a great family business. We have found our niche.
Miles Franklin has always been an image of what I want it to be. I set it up to educate people and offer them a necessary asset (gold and silver) without over-pricing or selling the wrong type of product (high mark-up items).
Joel Kravitz created and runs our EBay Division and we sell more gold and silver on EBay than any other dealer. Joel also set up the Miles Franklin Precious Metal Storage Program in partnership with Brinks Montreal. We think it is the finest of its kind in the industry. Joel and Andy grew up together, and have been friends for most of their life. Joel has added an entire new dimension to Miles Franklin.
Andy Schectman, Joel Kravitz and Andy Hoffman are the young blood in the company. A successful company needs new ideas and we have our share of bright forward-thinking young people on board.
Andy Hoffman was the first outside writer that I felt was worthy of joining our team. I saw his potential while he was working for another firm as a stock analyst. He is a major asset and as loyal as the day is long. He understands what we expect from him and has evolved into a perfect combination of who he is and who we want to represent us. Try finding this high quality of writing and information from any of our competition.
I was fortunate enough to also find Bill Holter. He is really a bright guy and he writes with a very appealing “folksy” style. His style is as different from Andy Hoffman’s as Laurel is to Hardy or Abbot is to Costello. Together they give us unquestionably the best free information that you can find in our industry. I add my two cents worth, but I am humbled by the amount of quality material that they manufacture five days a week. I wouldn’t trade either of them for anyone in our industry.
I wish we were always right – that we could identify the short-term peaks and dips, but the fact is that we are not always right. That said, I am convinced that our vision is correct, as is our understanding of the end game – which is not that far off. Our views will prove to have been correct. We will get the primary trend right and that is very exciting for gold and silver and not so much so for the U.S. dollar. It’s better to be early than late. But even more important than timing, one must understand the way this all ends. Was I early when I started accumulating gold below $300 and silver below $4? Was I wrong when I continued buying more at $1000 and $18? Honestly, even the gold and silver that I bought for MORE than today’s price was a good purchase. I do not have a crystal ball and the markets are manipulated anyways, so no one can predict short-term moves with 100% accuracy. Better early than one day late, I say.
Let me make a couple of predictions for you. First, three years from now (or maybe two) you will wish that you backed up the truck to buy $1300 gold and $21 silver. I am certain of that. Second, you will be glad that you allowed Miles Franklin to be your source of gold and silver and offshore storage. We will not disappoint.
We beat the odds. We started from nothing, some 25-years ago, in a bear market and we survived… survived and prospered.
Thank you all, from my son Andy and from me, for your support, your kind emails, your friendships and your business. Our greatest joy will be watching you all prosper along with us. We are on the right side of what will become the greatest bull market in our lifetime.