Illinois

Paul Tobias is the son of the founder of Tobias Guitars, which is located in Downers Grove, Illinois and specializes in handcrafted acoustic guitars such as those made by Taylor, Martin and Santa Cruz. Paul took over as president when his father retired but his father has not gone far from the...
Ken Tobias loved repairing guitars for himself and his friends and was able to turn it into a business in the early 1970s when he opened Tobias Guitars in Downers Grove, Illinois. One of his first lines was Martin Guitars and with the help of his son, Paul, several years later the store became the...
Bill Pritchard played in a military band while serving the United States for over 20 years. When he retired, he took up what he had loved to do during his service, repairing band instruments. Over the years Bill became an expert on various instruments and conducted classes at the annual NAPBIRT...
Ed Hendricks always enjoyed selling. After serving heroically in World War II, he worked in several Chicago-area department stores before being hired by Don Broman to work for Lyon & Healy’s retail store. In the early 1970s he decided to open his own piano store, which is located in Downers...
Thomas Parnell formed an independent music rep firm at a time when few such firms existed. Tom wanted to focus on providing tools and ideas to his dealers to grow their business in order to make his own business a success. His dedication and passion for the dealers has been a strong element of his...
Bill Gray was a music major in college and played drums professionally before joining the industry. Bill worked in music retail and as a manufacturer’s rep, which provided valuable experiences for him before he joined the Slingerland Drum Company in 1977. Bill combined his backgrounds to open a...
Bruce Bannister is the current president of Samuel Music in Effingham, Illinois. The store was formed in the 1940s by Lowell Samuel, the band director turned music industry pioneer. Bruce was interviewed in the store and recalled working closely with Lowell as well as Dean Samuel, Lowell’s son and...
Dean Samuel is the son of industry leader, Lowell Samuel, who not only formed the Samuel Music retail store in Effingham, IL but the pioneering music wholesale company, MIDCO, in 1964. Lowell was also one of the founders of NASMD and an early supporter of the industry’s Global Economic Summits....
Mel Wisniewski gave music lessons in a small music store in upstate Wisconsin and soon discovered he was interested in the idea of owning his own store. Not wanting to compete with his friend, Mel and his brother, Joe, moved to Southern Illinois where they established Wisniewski Brother’s Music in...
Don Middleton taught music lessons around town before working for Billy Hill at Hill’s Music in 1967. A few months later Mr. Hill announced his retirement and asked Don if he wanted to buy the store. With a small loan, which Don paid off in just over a year, he purchased the store. By 1970, he had...

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