Here’s to 50: Marshalltown businessman celebrates milestone
Many Marshalltown residents made a special visit to Hellberg’s Jewelers on Friday.
As people flowed through the business doors on Friday to greet owner Vic Hellberg, his family helped ensure the celebration for his 50th anniversary in the business ran smoothly. Refreshments, including shrimp cocktails, were set out for well-wishers to enjoy.
Spending 50 years with a store is no small feat in any business. What was more remarkable to Hellberg, 74, was he is the fourth generation to operate the Marshalltown business. Gesturing to three framed portraits hanging on the wall, he drew attention to his predecessors.
“My great grandfather started in 1898. So it was a natural flow for family to keep going,” Hellberg said. “It was interesting . . . only 30 percent of businesses reach three generations and less than 3 percent get to four generations . . . it’s quite a feat to be a four-generation store.”
However, jewelry was not Hellberg’s first career choice. He originally wanted to work in the food industry. At 14 years of age, he was employed as a busboy at Lloyd’s Restaurant in Marshalltown.
“I worked for them for many years, all through high school,” Hellberg said.
Then, he made the decision to go to the Culinary Institute of America in New Haven, Conn.
“The field I wanted to be in was food service,” Hellberg said. “I graduated from there and my brother David was the one interested in the business and he went to Vietnam.”
After David was activated in the Naval Reserve, Hellberg told their father he would return to work in Hellberg’s Jewelers until his brother returned from duty. David came home on a stretcher, so Hellberg said life was different. However, he does not regret his career path.
“I enjoy this business and hopefully I can continue to do it for many years to come,” Hellberg said. “Everyday I get up and am excited to get to work and help the community with jewelry purchases.”
A granddaughter of Hellberg’s requested to serve as an intern in the jewelry store this summer. That is something that excited Hellberg, but he also does not want to push.
“I don’t know the future of the business, but that could be something really big for our family,” he said.
In his 50 years in the industry, Hellberg witnessed the pendulum swing toward the big chain stores in the 1970s and believes it is swinging back to the smaller independently-owned stores — the ones that care about the communities, which can definitely be said about Hellberg.
In May, he and his wife Gayle were recognized by the Marshalltown Chamber as the recipients of the 2021 Community Impact Award. Hellberg also has served as the co-chair of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum Fundraising Committee and helped bring in $1.3 million for the restoration efforts.
Now that the beloved building is back in order after sustaining significant damage from the 2018 tornado, Hellberg has more plans for the structure. However, he is not ready to make those plans known just yet.
His efforts with the Coliseum are not the only things Hellberg does, as he tries his best to stay busy.
“I’m active in Rotary and probably I spend more of my time with the Jewelers Association of Iowa and I’m very active in the ship I served on,” he said. “Almost every night I work on emails to send to shipmates. I keep very, very busy.”
Hellberg did say he is not as active as he used to be, and at his age, it is normal to run out of steam at a quicker rate.
Long-time friend John Boston made sure to stop by Hellberg’s Jewelers for the occasion after he saw the event in the Times-Republican. Helping the people of Marshalltown is something Boston said Hellberg does, particularly the veterans.
“One word to describe Vic is ‘caring,'” Boston said.
Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.