ST. LOUIS MUSIC recently hosted 30 members of the Independent Music Merchants Group for a two-day session at its headquarters in St. Louis. Product presentations and strategy sessions were mixed with festive barbeque dinners, creating what Jessica Freehling-Kazzie of Art’s Music in Birmingham, Alabama described as a “very productive” event. The October 25-26 gathering reflects St. Louis Music CEO Mark Ragin’s approach to customer service. “It only happens for us when you make a sale,” he told the assembled group. “We want to earn your business by helping you succeed in the marketplace.”
Since acquiring St. Louis Music and its Knilling violin and Alvarez guitar brands five years ago, this customer-oriented approach has paid handsome dividends for Ragin. He told the group that sales for the current year would top $24 million, up from $7 million in 2008. The growth has also been fueled by an expanded product portfolio, which now also includes the P.Mauriat sax and trumpet line, Zonda band instruments, and Dixon percussion.
Band Instrument Product Manager Craig Denny described the P.Mauriat sax line as “the best value in the intermediate and professional price points” and noted the line’s rising sales. He also described a new incentive for dealers to include Zonda products in their rental pools, offering free repair parts on any Zonda instrument for three years.
Knilling Product Manager Jim Eaton gave retailers a guided tour of St. Louis Music’s violin shop, where every instrument is adjusted before shipping. Jim Uding reviewed the Dixon percussion line, which is manufactured by Reliance International, and referred to the “tremendous success” he’d had the product in his previous career in retail.
Reflecting on the company’s growth, Ragin told the dealers, “We have been fortunate to assemble such a talented group of people. They are responsible for all that we’ve accomplished. However, nothing starts until you put a pencil to an order pad, and I want to thank you for all your support.”