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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Joe Gehrke

Chief Executive Officer

Kesslers Diamonds

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Founded: Year 1980

Industry: Retail - Diamond Jewelry

As the CEO of Kesslers Diamond Center, Inc., Joe Gehrke abides by a personal mission statement to Building Respectful Relationships through hard work and humility. “Those eight words are the cornerstone of how I think about leading people,” Gehrke said. “Any good leader needs to be humble and authentic enough to admit when they make a mistake or need help solving an issue.”

Gehrke said he is human just like everyone else and being able to show that humility is really important to building long term respect and unity within an organization. That’s why he is driven to always find a better way to do something. “Failure is a great breeding ground to learn and grow and I try really hard to never be satisfied by the status quo,” he said.

By embracing humility, Gehrke has achieved a successful 20+ year career in commercial banking before taking over as the CEO of Kesslers Diamond Center, a retail jewelry store with eight store locations serving both Wisconsin and Michigan. During the last six years, Gehrke has committed to grow his jewelry knowledge. “Through his willingness to be humble, he has learned the jewelry and diamond business inside and out and has achieved great admiration and respect throughout the jewelry industry,” said his colleagues.

In addition, Gehrke has led Kesslers Diamonds through the continuously advancing and changing digital advertising world, staffing, leadership changes, and the challenge everyone in the business world faced, as well as maneuvering the COVID pandemic. As a result, Kesslers Diamonds has come out on top stronger than ever.

“Joe leads the company with a team-based, client-driven, customer centric approach concentrating on building long term mutually beneficial relationships with clients, vendors and employee owners,” said his colleagues. His efforts have led the company to achieve record sales and earnings with expansion into new markets and e-Commerce capabilities.

“I think I am naturally very curious and that curiosity allows me to easily build relationships with all kinds of different people that I interact with,” said Gehrke. “I believe that everyone has a cool life journey to tell and so I love to get to know people to get them to tell me that story in a very organic and non-confrontational way.”

This approach has led to creating value for employee owners while emphasizing the need for strong relationships. “We are constantly celebrating all of our great wins and using them as the way to see how we can do even better tomorrow than we did today,” said Gehrke.

In celebration of his success, Gehrke has been named a Titan.

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What is your secret superpower?

I think I am naturally very curious and that curiosity allows me to easily build relationships with all kinds of different people that I interact with.


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