It was silver jewelry that first drew Fred Moran to the Land of Enchantment, and now some 20-odd years later, Moran is still in the jewelry business — but that is not what he is known for in Chaves County political circles.
Moran is wrapping up his second, and he says final, two-year stint as chairman of the Chaves County Democratic Party.
Moran is known as a vocal proponent of Democrats and their ideals, but he is also a successful businessman. As president and CEO of Rich Glo Products, Moran runs a corporation that supplies jewelry cleaning products.
Now a U.S. citizen, Moran is originally from Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada.
He came to the country on an H-1B Visa and it took 10 years for him to become a full citizen. Moran was a successful jewelry salesman specializing in Native American Jewelry from the Southwest. “I was making trips to Albuquerque several times a year,” Moran recalled, “and I always thought this was one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Moran had several large stores in Canada that sold fine silver jewelry he imported, and his salespeople would use a polishing glove when handling the jewelry to prevent the silver from tarnishing.
“People kept asking me where they could get the polishing glove, and that is when I got the idea to start selling jewelry care products.”
Moran moved to New Mexico in the early 1990s, and started Rich Glo Products here in Roswell.
Rich Glo has been supplying jewelry merchants and manufacturers with quality jewelry care products for more than 30 years, according to the company website.
Rich Glo jewelry care products are effective and easy to use, and the products have been mastered by maintaining rigid quality standards.
Not only does Rich Glo sell jewelry cleaning solutions and polishing cloths, the company can also provide branded products for jewelry stores and companies to sell under their own name.
“We sell products all across the country, and we were a $1.4 million a year business before the recession.”
The economic collapse of 2008 saw Moran’s company’s income plummet from $1.4 million to $400,000 a year, and his company shrunk from 15 employees to only two. Slowly, the business has been picking back up, but there were some lean years for Moran.
“People weren’t buying jewelry; they were more concerned with paying their mortgages and buying the essentials.”
The economic downturn, and the bad politics behind it, encouraged Moran to become more involved in his adopted country’s political process.
“That was really what got me off the fence, politically speaking, the economic policies of George W. Bush and the damage that was inflicted on the economy,” he said.
Moran said that when he first came to the U.S., he was politically neutral.
“I felt like it really didn’t affect me, personally.”
The Great Recession changed his perspective.
“That is what really got me to want to be politically active. When I looked at both of the parties, it was the Democratic Party’s ideas and policies that seemed to be more appropriate.”
Moran began to be active within the Democratic Party, and in 2011, he became the chairman of the Chaves County Democrats. He also ran unsuccessfully for the office of county tax assessor in 2010.
“We were really kind of scattered, and we’ve been working on being more effective at having regular meetings,” Moran said. “We want to become more involved in the community and get more of our Democratic voters out to the polls.”
The Chaves County Democratic Party held a grand opening for their office on Friday, inviting state and local political officials as well as the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate Gary King.
“We’ve had offices in the past, and we usually have an office during an election year, but this is the first time we have opened the office this far ahead of the election,” Moran said.
Typically the election is decided by the close of early voting, Moran said, and the Chaves County Democrats want to get their message out as soon as possible to energize the local voters.
“We have a real problem here, with only 10 percent of the eligible voters actually voting,” Moran said. “When you have only 1-in-10 people voting, no elected official can really claim that they have received a ‘mandate from the people.’”
Moran said that according to the county voter rolls, there are about 16,000 Republicans and 11,000 Democrats in Chaves County, but voter apathy results in just a fraction of those people turning out on election night.
“We really have to do a better job of getting people involved, the voter apathy here is terrible. When only 10 percent of your voters bother to turn out on election night, then nobody really wins and no one who is elected can truly say they have a mandate.”
Moran said he hopes by opening the Democratic Party office earlier this year, the party will have a better opportunity to get the word out about their candidates and encourage voters to actually get out to the polls in November.
Moran’s company is also involved in economic development in Chaves County, working with the Roswell Chaves County Economic Development Corp. In 2007, Moran was awarded the Chaves County Small Business Development Center’s Outstanding Entrepreneur Award.
“I want to work with the city and county on economic development and help in any way I can,” Moran said.
In the polarized political climate that the U.S. finds itself in today, not much is being accomplished because there is no middle ground.
“I think really it is the moderates, those in the middle in both parties, who are going to be able to get things done.”
The difference between moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans is far less than the differences often portrayed in the media or by extremist elements, Moran said, and it is in the common ground that politicians need to work.
“I think one of the goals of the Democratic Party, and really of anyone who is interested in their community, is to be a voice for change,” Moran said. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done.”