Interview with Joe Merrick, President and CEO of Provident Metals

Joe Merrick

In just a few short years, Provident Metals has taken the online precious metal investment world by storm. The company, helmed by Joe Merrick, has been at the forefront of countless innovations, from the practical – their secure online sales and shipping methods have revolutionized online precious metal purchases – to the whimsical. Specialty coins from Provident Mint like their Zombucks series portray a company that’s keenly tapped in to not only the needs of investors, but the pulse of modern culture.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Joe recently, and he shared his insights on the economy, investing, and what sets his company apart. After reading our interview, you’ll see exactly how and why Merrick has successfully led Provident in reinventing online precious metal investments.

Let’s talk about your investment philosophy. What draws you to precious metals in particular?

There are a lot of reasons for investing in precious metals. We all have bills we have to pay no matter what. We all have to live our lives day to day, which requires spending money on food, housing, cars, etc. But what we hope is that people also live below their means so as to be able to save for a rainy day. We hope that you spend on your necessities and some wants, you invest a reasonable portion on sound investments including savings, and that you own precious metals as a way to protect the wealth that you are building. This allows one to truly live well. They have what they need for today, they are investing for tomorrow through stocks and savings, and they’re protecting that wealth through precious metals. Plus, Zombucks and bullets are just plain FUN!

When you founded Provident the U.S. economy was still in a state of crisis, so starting this business was a pretty bold move. Clearly based on Provident’s success it was the correct one, but can you tell us more about what prompted the decision and how you knew that the time was right?

When I was in college, I was newly married, had a brand new baby, went to school full time, worked as a school bus driver full time and worked as a taxi driver at night. When I went to my first (and only) interview for a “real” job, I realized that my talents as well as my expectations weren’t in line with what Corporate America was looking for. I came home and told my wife, “I’m never going to get hired. If we’re going to make any real money, we’re going to have to start a business.”

I never thought about starting a business before that day, but starting a business was not only the natural thing to do, but seemed like a cake walk compared to my daily life at that time. It hasn’t been a cake walk, per se, but it’s been very rewarding to see the business compete and to build relationships with people the way we have. I’m not gonna lie; people love us cuz we’re awesome. When I say “awesome” I’m not talking in a proud way. I’m saying that while we understand the fundamentals of investing in precious metals, we also know you don’t have to be all frou frou and stuffy about it either. We’re every day people like those whom we serve. Have some fun with your investments!!

What do you see as the biggest challenge for consumers in the current economy, and how do you feel tangible investments like precious metals can help meet that challenge?

The biggest challenge for consumers in the current economy is the ever rising pressure to live above one’s means. This single challenge represents so much of what is broken in our economy today. We have to have a new car before we save for the potential of a lost job. How much is a new car going to affect your daily life? Marginally. How much will a lost job affect your daily life? Extensively.

So which should we focus our wealth upon? I would argue that those that invest in precious metals are those that are working to build a stronger future for themselves and their family at the sacrifice of the shiny new car (that loses 20% of its value the second you drive it off the lot). How can investing in precious metals help? Just like anyone who wants to be physically fit works hard at it, it’s important to be financially fit by setting a plan and having a long term goal and outlook. You don’t quit working out just because you only lost a pound this week. You keep working out because you’re going to live an exciting life for an additional 20 years. That’s what investing in precious metals does for you; keeps you financially fit.

Most of the problems created by fiat currency are fairly obvious, but what do you wish more investors truly understood about our current economic system?

I wish they understood just how fragile our economy is and how worthless our money is. If they did, they would be more concerned with their livelihood. If they understood that, they’d prepare more for the possibility of being forced to make changes to their spending and investing habits. The Great Depression happened very quickly. Generations of lives were changed forever due to the effects of this crazy situation. We have come dangerously close to something of that magnitude many times in the past 10 years. How many times can we, as an American public, escape? How worthless is our money?

Here’s a great example I tell people every day. In 1850, you could buy a nice horse with a $20 gold piece (which is an ounce of gold) or with $20 in cash. Today, you can still buy a horse with an ounce of gold, but it’s going to cost you $1,500 in cash. Protect your buying power with precious metals.

If you could personally address investors who are considering purchasing precious metals but haven’t yet committed, what would you say to them?

I’d encourage them to treat it as if they’re buying for their grandchildren’s success. When one has a long-term outlook on an investment, one is much more likely to buy low and sell high. If you’re looking for a quick buck, precious metals might not be the place for your money; perhaps a casino or scratch off is a better place. There are quick bucks to be made in precious metals provided you are smart about your investing techniques, have a plan, and are constantly watching the changing marketplace, but the prudent thing to do is to have a long-term outlook giving one a better chance to buy low and sell high.

Nothing pains me more than to hear from someone that they invested in silver last month and they’re dumping it this month to buy stocks; or even vice versa. One should never have an exclusive investment strategy. Precious metals investing is about being inclusive; buy stocks, have a savings account, and accumulate precious metals. Missing a piece? It’s easy to fill.

Provident has a real knack for knowing what consumers want in terms of products, fulfillment and even discrete shipping policies. What do you think it is about your company that makes you so skilled at meeting the needs of precious metal investors?

Precious metals investors are no different than other investors. If you want to buy a stock, you can look at your different options and sort what you’re looking for. Once you’ve made the purchase, you have it in your portfolio. And your portfolio is protected by a password on your computer or relationship with your broker. We offer the same things except that you actually own a physical investment instead of a piece of “paper” that says that you own something.

The downside to owning something physical is that Provident has to ship it to you without anyone knowing what it is, and you have to keep it somewhere where no one will know what or where it is. Therein lies our biggest challenge. We’ve incorporated a number of advancements, both technologically as well as operationally, so that we can get metals to you faster thereby allowing you to keep it discretely.

Rather than be satisfied with your already impressive success, Provident continues to revolutionize the world of precious metal investing. In July, for example, you became the first online precious metals firm to offer investment-grade diamonds. What traits of Provident as a company (and you as a leader) would you say drive these continued innovations?

Innovative (I know you just said that, but it’s true, haha!), excited, unafraid, protective, outreaching, fun. I don’t know what other words describe what Provident is, but this is what I hope we are. We want to provide investment opportunities to meet the goals of our customers, but subject matter is important. We provide incredible subject matter to our customers that is different, relevant, and inclusive. We want to pull you into the precious metals circle through silver and gold, but we want you to be excited about your newfound love through copper and diamonds.

Provident is very much tapped in to pop culture, with Provident Mint releasing exclusive and lighthearted products like Zombucks to tap into the current Zombie craze. It’s a different image from the other “stuffed shirt” types of firms you find out there. How much do you think that has contributed to the company’s success?

We aren’t Wall Street. We’re Main Street. Come into our office and you’ll see ping pong tables, shorts, flip flops and footballs. We are young friends working our tails off to bring the people what the people want. That’s why they call us The People’s Bullion Dealer. Some people want Morgan Dollars and American Silver Eagles. But millennials want Zombucks and diamonds. It’s easy to invest in the other stuff. It’s fun AND easy to invest in the new stuff!! The other guys can keep their suits and ties, but we’re regular folk helping regular folk.

With such an exciting history already, Provident is poised to remain at the forefront of precious metal investing. Can you give us any hints about what kind of innovations we might see from your company in the future?

If you saw the things on the whiteboad of my office, you’d wonder what in the world it has to do with precious metals investing. And that’s a good thing. You’ve been to the site. You know it’s not just for precious metals; it’s for your future.

So what’s your zombie apocalypse preparedness plan?

Basically a variation of the things I do EVERY day. Protect the family, get to the office (it has an enormous vault), and come up with exciting solutions.

We greatly appreciate Joe taking the time to share his incredible insights in such a frank and candid manner. It’s the attitude we’ve come to expect from this inventive company and its dynamic leader, and underscores precisely why Provident Precious Metals continues to lead the charge in online gold, silver and copper bullion investing.