TIME IS MONEY: Providence-based Speidel is emerging from a 2009 bankruptcy hoping to ride a resurgence in mid-1900s fashion. Above, company principals Gennaro and Lynn-Marie Cerce look at products in the firm’s Cranston facility.
PBN PHOTO/NATALJA KENT
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
The heyday of 109-year-old watch-and-watchband-brand Speidel was the skinny-tie era of the 1950s and 1960s, when the company employed hundreds in its Providence Jewelry District plant.
Now Gennaro and Lynn-Marie Cerce, the brother-and-sister team who bought Speidel out of bankruptcy in 2009, hope the “Mad Men”-inspired popularity of those midcentury fashions will fuel the brand’s resurgence.
“I think the Speidel brand is a vintage brand and the millennial generation wants a vintage look and feel, like on ‘Mad Men’ [the AMC series focused on the 1960s New York advertising world],” said Lynn-Marie Cerce, principal of Cerce Capital LLC, which owns Speidel. “We have added new products but kept our classic [lines]. It’s like Levi’s and Converse, those timeless brands are always getting good play.”
From the months in receivership in 2009, when the company stopped shipping orders and laid off its entire workforce, the Cerces are building the brand back piece by piece.
After buying the Speidel name, they reacquired an identification-bracelet segment, with both medical and engraved jewelry bracelets, that had been sold off preceding the bankruptcy.
In 2011, they added a line of watches to go along with the brand’s signature bands.
Now they are expanding from watches and bands further into fashion accessories and men’s jewelry, such as bracelets, cuff links and money clips.
Last year Speidel built a new website that gives them, for the first time in the company’s history, an e-commerce portal allowing direct online sales.
“It was in total shambles when we bought it,” said Gennaro Cerce, also a Cerce Capital principal, about Speidel. “It had been shut down for three months and once we bought it we had to hire everyone back and get it up and running again. For the most part, that has meant we have had to be very tactical so far.”