Looking back over a rewarding 41-year career in the musical instrument and pro audio business, I cannot help but reflect on the many opportunities that have presented themselves. Embarking on a new journey can be scary, create a certain amount of anxiety, and inevitably force saying “yes” or “no” to a new adventure. For me, the internal barometer is adrenaline. As I dwell upon any new fork in the road, is my heart pounding, or are the emotions of excitement, risk, and a little danger present? In four decades, I’ve made life decisions based on circumstances that have seemingly come out of nowhere; some worked out splendidly, and others not so much.
Crossing the Musical Rubicon
When I wandered my way into a retail sales position at Medley Music in 1980, I chose a path that I’d never really stop walking. Returning from a summer of debauchery at the Jersey Shore, the band wasn’t working and the only job I could find was at a tire store. After an unfortunate incident having my finger crushed in a spin-balance machine, a chance meeting with a local drummer led to the realization that a keyboard sales role was available. I was somewhat introverted at the time and shaking like a leaf as I “asked for the sale,” and to my surprise found a home in a room full of synthesizers. Once inside the music trade, I knew instinctively there was no turning back.
I was offered to become the director of sales at Korg USA in 2007, managing 17 field reps. It’s said that “hindsight is 20/20,” and the turbulence of the next few years had me regretting this decision at times. But I can still say with confidence that I learned from the difficult experiences, working through the devastating effects of the financial crisis that materialized shortly after my jump to management. Later, other job offers came unexpectedly, each with their own unique circumstances and challenges that at times shook my belief system. On many occasions I longed for the “good old days” of working a territory, not having the weight of responsibilities that had piled on after ten years of promotions. To this day I wonder if I did the right thing by making that first move, but there really is no looking back, only moving forward with what you’ve added to your arsenal of knowledge.
Becoming a Small Business Owner
The fortuitous meeting with Reflex Marketing owner Bob Brennan in late summer of 2018 led me to acquire the business. Owning a rep firm, even an established one with solid lines, is the equivalent of working without a safety net. There was no guarantee I’d be successful, let alone prosper. An unexpected cancer diagnosis created instant chaos and the battle of a lifetime ensued, coinciding with my start date. Thankfully since then the company has thrived, and along the way I’ve learned a ton about both self-reliance and leaning on my team. Without a master’s degree in anything but hard work, the journey has been quite satisfying, despite quite a few sleepless nights.
The Evolution of Adding Value
I’m grateful that opportunity seems to keep finding me, the most recent being the establishment of a new wholesale distribution company called Music Ship. I suppose this is a logical next step in a fulfilling profession, one that is woven into the fabric of my other business ventures. Making this commitment is daunting, but the door opened, and I’ve chosen again to walk through it. After years of observing peers in this corner of the trade, my overarching goal is to add value and become an asset to my dealers, suppliers, and coworkers. After all, that’s where the most satisfying moments come from, plus there’s that adrenaline rush again…
Hope to see you out there on the high seas of the music products industry, while riding this next wave!