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"Employment should not be a curse, it should be a blessing," said David Nygaard, founder and CEO of David Nygaard Fine Jewelers. It is with this optimistic philosophy that Nygaard and his store managers seek out the "best of the best" when it comes to their sales representatives. While some stores just read through a resume and run a credit check, the managers at David Nygaard look and wait for the right person rather than just fill a position. They've even been known to steal a few from other local jewelry stores.

One who got nabbed and hired by the jewelry store is Anthony Hinds. He'd been in the jewelry business for more than 10 years when David Nygaard hired him. He calls the decision one of the best he's ever made.

"It allows me to spend more time with my family," Hinds said, "I could see myself spending the rest of my career here."

And that just want Nygaard wants to hear. "We find people who will create and add value," Nygaard said. "When you find good people, you find a place for them."

Nygaard also openly runs his business based on his Christian faith. While employees are note required to ascribe to any particular religion for employment, one manager said the employees appreciate Nygaard's religious convictions.

"We don't force it on them, but we let them know ahead of time that we're not the highest authority – we report to someone else," said Tim Birkholz, manager of Jefferson Commons location in Newport News. "They like that we have these high standards."

The representatives at David Nygaard are pampered much like the customers they assist. Each location is provided with snacks, drinks and Starbucks coffee for the employees. When hired, new employees also receive a two-suit clothing allowance to get their professional wardrobe started or add to it. Additional allowances are given as bonuses as well.

"New clothes can make you feel like a new person," Nygaard said. He offers professional dress workshops in addition to the clothing allowances for those employees unsure about appropriate work attire.

Training and diamond certification opportunities are also offered, free of charge as long as the employee remains with the company for a year after. These workshops are part of Nygaard's philosophy of making a career out of working for his company.

"I want our reps to be better off from having been here," Nygaard said.

Managers participate in monthly group workshops with a retired business professor from Regent University. Nygaard is also a part of a group of Christian CEOs that combine faith and ethics in their business practices.

Another aspect of employment at David Nygaard that adds to relax, family atmosphere is the solid hourly pay – employees are not paid on commission. Performance is tracked and rewarded with bonuses, but paychecks are secure.

"Working on commission isn't comfortable," Nygaard said. "Just because you have a bad month doesn't mean you don't make your car payment."

Nygaard expresses concern and a desire to listen through his weekly "4:15 report." He asks all employees to send him a short email every Friday. If they have complaints, suggestions or kudos they can voice it straight to the CEO.

"I like to hear from the grassroots," Nygaard Said.

Birkholz said the 4:15 report has a positive effect on morale and team-building among the employees who feel connected to the CEO through e-mail messages and get excited when Nygaard implements one of their suggestions.

Good luck trying to get a job with the successful jeweler, though. When employees sign on they usually stay.

"A 50-hours work week here," Birkholz said, "is better than a 40-hour week somewhere else."

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