Owners & Employees Are Singing The Same Song At Amro Music.

Talking about Nepotism in the work place can very quickly lead to a heated discussion. Is it good? Is it bad? While it's clearly important to avoid the "lazy nephew" phenomenon- appointing an incompetent or lazy family member to an important position, there are  obvious benefits to employing family members. If it's your family company you might say, "while I may not currently be the best performer, there's no one that's going to work harder than me, and no one that will care about the company more than me." This narrative has been working for many of the top multi- generational family owned retailers in the US. When speaking with NAMM members, I only heard great things about Amro Music and the incredible work Pat and Chip Averwater, (Chip is recently retired from Amro) are doing in preparing their sons Nick & CJ for more responsibility. You probably know that Chip has…

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Meet Rob The Drummer

The Power of Music. A path to a higher self awareness. Music is transformative and when words fail to move, music is the means. Meet Rob “the Drummer” Gottfried, who uses his tremendous skills as a musician to connect with youth around the world, sending a message of hope and inspiration while denouncing drugs and bullying, leading to improved self-esteem and pursuing your passion to “Be the BEST You Can Be”. At an early age, Rob devoted his life to helping others and found the way through music.  He pursued three majors in college; psychology, philosophy and music, and worked hard to turn his passion into a lifelong commitment. What makes Rob the Drummer different than other youth motivational speakers?  How does Rob make a genuine and lasting impact on the struggling youth of this generation?  Youth growing up in a climate of broken homes and broken educational systems, surrounded with…

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Canadian Music Trade Interviews Jaimie Blackman

Who Do You Need on Your Side when Selling the Business? By Michael Raine, Assistant Editor of Canadian Music Trade June/July 2016 Jaimie Blackman of BH Wealth Management When should MI owners begin their succession planning? If you own a store and haven’t begun laying that groundwork, then you’re behind schedule. It doesn’t matter if you’re 32 or 62, succession planning should begin practically the moment you take ownership, according to Jaimie Blackman, a New York-based financial planner and president of BH Wealth Management, who is a former MI store owner himself. In fact, he can give you the precise moment this became apparent to him. “I live on Staten Island in New York City and Stan Jay operated a very famous store for 40 years called Mandolin Brothers. His clients included Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell. You’d walk into this store and you’d see 800 or…

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Should Music Retailers Buy Or Rent Their Building?

Joe Lacerda, owner of Manchester Music Mill needed financial help to fund his expansion needs. When his own bank in 2013 came up short, Joe reached out to Stephen Heavener, Executive Director of Capital Regional Development Council to obtain an SBA 504 loan.  The US Small Business Administration 504 Loan or Certified Development Company program is designed to provide financing for the purchase of fixed assets, which usually means real estate, buildings and machinery, at below market rates. I previously explored this alternative financing venue in a recent post I wrote. As a result of receiving his funding, Joe doubled his previous year's revenues, exceeding all projections and has been growing ever since. Joe has a reputation of being a savvy business man, and has very definite ideas about real-estate. Here's how our conversation went: Jaimie: How important was owning your building? Joe: The building purchase is a huge part of stability to a retail store. With retail,…

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More Than a Feeling: Branding Tips from Former NAMM Marketing Guru. Meet Scott Robertson.

My title at Ladenburg Thalmann, a financial services company I worked for in 2000 was Chief Internet & Marketing Officer. Fancy title for a difficult job. Back in 2000, things were a little different. The internet was slower with less technology choices. Yet the need for simple, effective marketing messages was just as important as it is today. One advantage MI retailers have over the financial industry is you can actually show a physical product. After all, music instruments are beautiful and very cool!  There is nothing aesthetically beautiful about numbers, stocks, graphs, performance, and asset allocation – although we all want and need money in this world. That's where Scott Robertson comes in. An 11-year veteran at NAMM as director of marketing & communications and the marketing guru who spearheaded NAMM’s popular "believe in music…belong to NAMM" re-branding effort. I recently caught up with Scott. Here's an excerpt from our conversation. JB- Hi Scott. Thanks…

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Meet Stephen Heavener: A Non-Traditional Banker.

You've built a successful music retail business. You've identified your successor. Worked hard mentoring her over the last decade.  You're finally ready to pull the trigger so you can have time to get the band back together and re-ignite your performance career. There's only one problem; your traditional banker is coming up short to fund the amount your successor will need to come up with to ensure a successful retirement. Not an uncommon scenario. According to the SBA (Small Business Administration) web site, a Certified Development Company or CDC  is a nonprofit corporation set up to contribute to the economic development of its community. CDCs are located nationwide and operate primarily in their state of incorporation (Area of Operation). CDCs work with SBA and private-sector lenders to provide financing to small businesses through the CDC/504 Loan Program, which provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings. Along…

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More Than Just A Music Store. Meet Tim Pratt co-owner of Dietze Music.

Tim Pratt, the musician, has played guitar and written his own songs since the mid 70’s, before this was the popular thing to do. Tim Pratt, the businessman, is President and one of two owners of Dietze Music, the largest independent music store in Nebraska. Throughout his entire life, Tim has followed his heart and let his love of music and love of neighbor guide his life and his career. Tim is not unlike his predecessor and the patriarch of Dietze Music, August Dietze, who opened Dietze Music in 1927 in Lincoln, Nebraska, following the demise of the silent picture movies where young August played musical accompaniment. Mr. Dietze opened his first store as a music repair shop and gradually added instrument sales and music lessons. Dietze Music survived the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the 10 years of the Great Depression to become a musical destination in the 1950’s…

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Music For My Soul. Meet Kevin Higgins.

Meet Kevin Higgins, Missionary for Music. Kevin Higgins lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident 19 years ago.  The horrific phantom pain from nerve damage caused by the traumatic amputation caused a downward spiral to a life filled with pain medication and failed relationships.  Until the day Kevin walked into a Yamaha music store and played one of the few songs he remembered from childhood piano lessons, “Open Arms”, by Journey.  Kevin realized that while playing the piano his pain went away. He returned to the music store day after day for relief from his excruciating pain.  When Kevin’s mom shipped his old piano 300 miles to his home, Kevin’s life turned around forever.  Music saved Kevin’s life.  Kevin is now a self-proclaimed “Missionary for Music” and brings the message of the healing power of music to those suffering from chronic pain and mental illness. Kevin is the Music and…

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Tips For Succeeding With Succession: A conversation with Peter Sides.

Just because something is handed to you, doesn't mean that it will continue on in perpetuity. According to Peter Sides, the president and the third generation of his family to operate the Robert M. Sides Music Center in Pennsylvania, family issues remain the #1 challenge in most closely-held companies. Family issues remain the #1 challenge in most closely-held companies. I’m aware of 9 or 10 businesses that were doing well over $5-10 million that just aren’t here anymore. A lot of it had to do with generational handovers or family dynamics that undermined the success of the business. Good things happen very quickly and bad things happen very quickly because there’s no middle management to slow either direction down. According to Peter, to minimize family tension, you have to get the family issues out on the table. Peter is no stranger to hearing these stories. In our recent conversation, Peter took me…

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How Strait Music Is Creating A Family Dynasty.

What does it take to successfully transfer your business to 2nd generation family member(s)?  How about third generation and beyond?  If it extends to 7 generations and you have a 100 year old business and you have succeeded in establishing a family dynasty. You have preserved family wealth. Sounds like an impossible feat considering that 70% of family-owned businesses fail or are sold before the second generation gets a chance to take over. According to James E. Hughes, author of Family Wealth, it is possible with the right approach; include a spiritual component. I'm not necessarily talking about bringing the family to meditate deep in the Himalayas, although it sounds inviting to me, I'm talking about defining what the purpose of family is. For Mr. Hughes, family purpose is all about insuring the happiness and well-being of each of the individual family members. Without this mandate, the business, and along with it, family…

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