To get to know John Henne, the owner of Pittsburgh’s Henne Jewelers, one might start by reading his great-grandfather’s obituary.
Rudolph Joseph “R.J.” Henne founded Henne Jewelers in 1887. Upon his death in 1936, the Pittsburgh Press described him as a “gentle, retiring man whose acts of charity and deeds of kindness were as numerous as they were unostentatious.” Four generations and 130 years later, the same could be said of John Henne.
Along with his sisters, Henne grew up in the family business, which was headed by his father, Jack, who is now retired, though he still pops into the store occasionally.
“The real advantage I had over many other people in this industry is that my dad, from very early on, let my sisters and me make the decisions that impacted the future of the business,” says Henne. “Even though he was the president and really ran things, his attitude was that ultimately it would be ours, so we should be making the decisions.”
Henne officially joined the store in 1992, following completion of an accounting degree at Grove City College and a three-year stint as a certified public accountant at KPMG.
Henne used his personal connections in the community to become a go-to store for engagement rings. By also reducing margins, transitioning to diamonds with grading reports and increasing inventory, the bridal business increased naturally over the years.
Henne says the most valuable thing he learned from his dad, whom he describes as humble and family-oriented, was, “to always do what’s right, even when it hurts.”
Henne always has made philanthropy and community involvement a priority. He’s served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations.
Henne explains, “Our business is about love, and our mission is to enhance and strengthen relationships. If we can do that sincerely and legitimately, then I’m excited to get behind it and come to work. Our staff can feel that way too.”