Accessories based on an inventive take on instrument care
HW Products founder George Koregelos once said, “When times are good, people will make music. When times are bad…people will make music.” An internationally recognized flute builder and repair tech, George had already found a prominent place in the industry before starting HW Products in 1977. However, it was his insights into the day-in-day-out nature of music making that led to some of his most lasting contributions. In his work as a technician, George had an up-close view of the damage brass and wind instruments sustain under constant use, and that’s what led to HW Products’ signature offerings for instrument care: the Pad-Saver de-moisturizer and the metal-free HW Brass-Saver brush. In the four decades since its founding, San Leandro, California-based HW has branched out into several other products and established an international sales network, but it remains a specialist in matching everyday problems to ingenious solutions.
“Our strategy that has kept us successful for 40 years has been to stick with what we know, do it better than anyone else, and maintain a personal relationship with our customers,” says Angela Koregelos, George’s daughter and the current president and CEO of HW products.
For Angela, music has always been a way of life. After studying flute at the New England Conservatory, she performed for many years as a professional flutist and went on to join HW Products in 1991. Before any of that, though, she grew up watching her father at work in his music shop. “He had an engineer’s mind,” she recalled in an interview for NAMM’s Oral History Program. “When he’d think of something, he knew how to make it right away.”
Decades later, George’s innovations are still the backbone of the HW catalog. The Pad-Saver, now available for woodwinds from flute and piccolo to clarinet and every kind of saxophone, uses super-wicking microfiber to clear the instrument of moisture and residue that can damage surfaces and impair tone. George’s other key development, the Brass-Saver, employs a flexible non-metal brush to safely scrub moisture and mineral deposits from the inside of brass instruments without scratching the finish. Later additions to the product range include the Finish-Saver cleaning cloth, a range of mouthpiece cushions and key risers, and the Bravo Reeds line. In its newest entry, the company has added the Play-It-Safe disinfecting system: Designed to reduce the risk of inhaling germs that can cling to wind instruments, HW’s Play-It-Safe kits include a potent yet nontoxic antimicrobial spray and microfiber applicator.
While her father was the natural inventor, Angela originally made her mark on the business side of HW products, researching the materials, pricing, packaging, and distribution that bring HW’s products to market. Since taking over as president and CEO, she’s taken a broader view that includes bringing the company up to date with a strong social media and e-commerce presence. “I find the business end to be extremely creative—even sometimes more creative than when I was playing the flute professionally,” she says. “When I was performing, there was usually a conductor who was telling us how to do things. In this role, in effect I’m the conductor and I get to make the final decision as to how products are going to be presented. And I find that very exciting.”
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