Michael Vartanian started his career working in a watch store when he was just 16 years old. He spent nine years at this job and learned all about watch maintenance. He originally planned to become a pharmacist but didn’t think it was the right path for him, so he earned a business degree from Cal State LA before starting his own business.
After saving all his money, in 1996 Vartanian opened Marina Bay Watch Company, a watch service center and jewelry repair shop in Marina del Rey. It was a huge challenge the early years of running the store in his early twenties, but he was lucky enough to meet his wife soon after opening the business.
“It was extremely stressful at first, but my wife, Kori, is my rock,” Vartanian said. “She helped us stay on our feet while I struggled to make a name for myself and for the store. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”
The support of his wife and daughter, as well as his employees who all happen to be family members, has kept Vartanian focused over the years. His cousin, Moosh Babadjanian, has worked there for more than 15 years and helps run the business.
“I am very grateful to him for the hard work he is doing,” Vartanian said.
Vartanian has created a special bond with its customers and the people who supported the company in its early days. At first, he stocked the store with goods to earn extra money rather than just relying on jewelry maintenance. He had a lot of debt trying to balance it all out, but worked with companies that loaned him money to give him enough time to pay off every credit penny, which he did.
“I kept telling myself that I was going to get through this, and I did,” Vartanian said. “I just needed the people I worked with to believe in me too. And I proved to them that they could trust me.
Once business stabilized, he endeavored to build the same relationship of trust with his clients.
“A successful business is built on good customer service and quality workmanship,” Vartanian said. “I want to be part of every transaction to interact with every customer and ensure they leave happy. Jewelry is very expensive so it took me a long time to build a reputation for being able to handle expensive brands and for customers to trust me enough to leave their jewelry with me.
Some of the brands that people trust at Marina Bay Watch Company include Cartier, Gucci, Rolex, and TAG Heuer. On the repair side of the business, they specialize in diamond replacement, ring sizing, necklace and bracelet repair, pearl resetting, battery replacement, and jewelry and watch inspection. .
Many Vartanian customers are regulars who only trust his company to service their jewelry. When COVID-19 hit, their doors were closed for two months and Vartanian was unsure if the business would survive the pandemic.
When they were finally allowed to reopen he immediately had a long line of customers that was outside the door and around the corner. Things were so busy that the company had to move to appointments only.
“99% of our job is servicing watches and jewelry, which is very time-consuming,” Vartanian said. “We could barely keep up with the pace of work, so my wife and I decided to open just four days a week (Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday) to ensure we would still have some personal time alongside the chaos of the store. . I couldn’t be more relieved to have survived COVID-19. With all my heart I count my blessings. I am grateful and happy that my doors are open again. I am delighted that we have made it through this stage. ”
Marina Bay Watch Company
4027 Lincoln Blvd.
Marina del Rey