Seventy years ago, Rio Grande was founded on core values, including sharing knowledge and serving with integrity.
Today, Rio upholds that vision.
Who we are: We're Rio!
We're Rio Grande (just "Rio" to our customers, who quickly become friends). We are one of the largest suppliers to the jewelry industry in the world. We manufacture and distribute tools, equipment, gems, findings, displays and packaging for jewelers.
In 1944, Saul Bell established the precursor to Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico to serve jewelers and artisans. Though the business he started 70 years ago now has a worldwide reach, Saul's delight in teaching and building personal relationships with customers and students kept our "big-little company" focused on one thing: serving jewelers.
It all began on old Route 66.
As a young man, Saul Bell dabbled in a number of occupations during the ebb and flow of war, the Crash of '29, the Great Depression and World War II. During one of his stints in construction, he passed through New Mexico on his way to California and marveled at the vast quantities of silver jewelry available at stops throughout the southwest. It didn't take this young entrepreneur long to realize that the skills he learned as a jeweler's apprentice under his uncle, and the experience he gained during the 1920s, when he had his own jewelry business, could be a valuable commodity in a place like New Mexico. So, with a lot of ambition and not much else, he gathered up his new bride, Olive, and moved to Albuquerque.
Within a few years, Saul's vision paid off, and in 1944 he was able to buy the old White Eagle Trading Post on historic Route 66. These were war times, and silver was scarce, but Saul managed to keep his doors open to allow the silversmiths to continue their work. He extended credit to craftsmen who wouldn't otherwise have been able to continue working during such hard times, and so gained the reputation of being not just a fair and honorable businessman but a friend as well. His strong belief in people, coupled with a desire to share his knowledge of jewelry making, continued when he moved his operation to a bigger location in 1947. The business was renamed Rio Grande Wholesale Jewelers, and Rio Grande is still the name under which we operate and are widely known.
Saul gained the reputation of being not just a fair and honorable businessman but a friend as well…
Today, Saul's three children, Alan Bell (President), Molly Bell (Executive V.P.) and Eddie Bell (V.P. of Manufacturing), along with Danny Cox (V.P. of Finance) and a team of business development coaches lead the company. Together, the leadership team and 300-plus associates take a highly evolved approach to participative management, and strive to work in as flat a hierarchy as possible. The company is principle-based, rather than rule-based, and operates within a framework of 15 principles that have been developed over the years and continue to serve as the foundation for all business and interpersonal decisions.
The value Saul placed on sharing his knowledge with others continues, too, through Santa Fe Symposium®. This annual not-for-profit event, co-founded by Eddie Bell, provides a forum in which jewelers can gather and share information and gain the knowledge they need to manage their businesses more successfully. The vision Saul Bell had so long ago of helping others to learn, and the legacy he left behind of high standards and excellence, continues.
Our vision remains much as it was when Saul founded the company, with customer service, support and satisfaction the basis for all business conduct. It permeates every space of our 180,000-square-foot, solar-powered facility and inspires every associate.
What we do: We make jewelers' lives easier & more fun. Our customers are metalsmiths, manufacturers, award-winning designers, hobbyists and artisans. They're innovative, driven, creative, passionate, obsessed, focused, savvy, fun(ny), proud, giving, silly, ambitious, dreamers, professional, night-owls and early-risers. Our mission? To spoil them in every way so they never change. And frankly, we have fun doing it.
How we do it: With innovative solutions, great service & know-how. This is where Rio rocks! Our expert purchasing teams select every one of our 30,000+ products to keep our customers creating! Our customer service teams are the friendliest and most knowledgeable in the business. They get our customers answers. And if our customer representatives can’t find the answer, our Technical Support team can. With more than a century of combined jewelry-making experience, they provide an unrivaled level of information, support and advice. Dozens of teams make up the Rio family—from Shipping and Manufacturing to Information Systems and Marketing—and we are all working together every day to uphold the vision Saul had all those decades ago.
Another chapter in Rio Grande's history… Rio has never been one to shy away from change. In fact, it's our adaptability and willingness to embrace favorable change that have supported our staying power all these years.
On January 1, 2013, Rio reached another milestone in its long, steady growth, becoming a member of The Richline Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Company. This ideal partnership of shared values provides the resources that allow Rio Grande, still a "big-little company," to uphold its 70-year-strong vision of serving jewelers. Our leadership still comes from Alan Bell, Molly Bell and Eddie Bell and our leadership team. And each and every Rio associate remains as committed as ever to providing you with great products, stellar service and expert technical support.
Rio Grande, still a "big-little company," upholding its 70-year-strong vision of serving jewelers…
Powered by the Sun… Almost everything requiring electricity at Rio Grande—from jewelry making and manufacturing equipment to lights and computers—is powered by the sun, and we're basking in the wonder of it all. How did we get here?
When we installed almost five acres of solar panels at Rio Grande's facility in New Mexico, we were the first system in the state able to generate one megawatt of energy at peak output. Mega-what? Megawatt! All that sunlight adds up to more than 1.6 million kilowatt hours' worth of electricity each year. That's leaving a lot of watts at the electric company that others can use!
Like most ideas, this one began as a flicker of a possibility. It soon developed into a full-fledged effort to install more than 5000 locally-made solar panels atop the Rio parking lot—that's the largest commercial solar array in New Mexico!
This forward thinking leads to increased efficiency and stable energy costs, while filling the need to find renewable fuel sources. It's wonderful to be a part of the solution and to use this abundant (especially in New Mexico!) natural resource to power our business—and yours.