Longevity, stability, and a diverse product range
distinguish U.S.-based accessories specialist
With all of the challenges besetting the music products industry year after year, decade after decade, one of the best gauges of a business’s success is its longevity. Grover Musical Products was founded in 1922 as a wholesaler of instruments and accessories to retailers. Originally named Grossman Music Corporation, the company began manufacturing in the 1940s and eventually exited the wholesale business entirely to concentrate on manufacturing. Its current president, Richard Berger, represents the third generation of the family that founded the business. Richard worked in the company part time during his high school and college vacations, eventually signing on full time in 1972. Dann Skutt, executive vice president, has been with the company for more than 40 years. Richard’s son, Cory, joined the company in 2004 and is now vice president.
Grover Musical is best known for its full range of Grover tuning machine heads, including the popular Rotomatic line, for guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, and ukulele, plus bridges, cables, capos, digital tuners, and other fretted string instrument accessories. Other major product lines sold under the Grover, Trophy, Clevelander, 1st Note, and On the Wall brand names include accessories, educational items, and musical toys. The Grover Ultra Capo, a notable recent addition invented by Skutt, features a unique offset design that allows more room for the guitarist’s thumb on the back of the neck and a slightly wider top bar that helps keep the guitar in tune by distributing the spring pressure over a wider area. New to the Grover tuning machine head line, the Rotomatic Vintage Series replicates “milk bottle-style” hardware found on instruments of the 1960s and ’70s, a smart response to the guitarist community’s embrace of vintage and vintage-style instruments.
Grover has distinguished itself in the marketplace with the variety of products it sells to distributors and other manufacturers, including many proprietary items. In addition to its primary market in the U.S., its products are sold in numerous countries in Europe, South America, Australia, the Middle East, and Asia.
One of the rewards of running a business for almost a century is that, over the years, Grover has learned how to ride out, or even benefit from, various cycles in the market. For example, its customer base has grown as many smaller suppliers have been taken over or have gone out of business. On the other hand, it has also prospered from the relative steadiness of the accessories market. “While sales of instruments may go up and down,” says Richard, “sales of accessories have always remained stable.”
In general, economic swings tend to be offset by the versatility of Grover’s operation. “When the economy and instrument sales are up,” Richard says, “our business increases through the parts we sell to manufacturers. When the economy and instrument sales are down, we sell more repair and replacement parts to distributors.”
Reinvestment in new technologies and processes helps keep expenses down and product prices affordable. One of the most obvious is order processing and billing via EDI, email, and fax. The company has also installed new equipment to expedite manufacturing and reduce shipping time.
Due to the music products industry’s increasingly global commerce, Richard explains, Grover is impacted less by differences in the economic conditions in individual manufacturing nations. “Our workforce in the U.S. remains stable,” he says, “but the cost of labor remains much lower in other areas of the world. Procurement of raw materials and shipping remain a challenge as well as navigating some U.S. import regulations.”
While continuing to serve its core music products customers, Grover explores additional opportunities in other markets, for example music-themed toys and customizable promotional and marketing items imprinted with a company or organization name. Care is always taken to avoid products that would compete with its existing dealers’ interests.
Looking back over the company’s long history, Richard concludes, “The music industry remains exciting, interesting, and challenging. We look forward to the future and the opportunities for growth and expansion.”
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