Illinois

Al Slivinski was in the third grade when a salesman visited his school with the pitch “you too can be an accordion player!” Al developed great techniques on the accordion that served him well when he began playing the organ in high school, which he continued throughout college. He sold pianos and...
Ralph Sordyl believes in music! Having started a music repair business in his living room while teaching music, Ralph grew the company, Sordyl’s House of Music, to one of the best known in the country. It is remarkable that Ralph had the time considering he has nine children. Upon asking Mr....
Carl Thacker was a teenager when he began repairing band instruments.  In fact he was a Charter Member of NAPBIRT and attended the first annual convention before he was 20 years old.  After a long career as the instrument repair technician for Illinois State Universally, Carl devoted himself full...
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...
Johnnie Wilson has been involved with music in his church his entire life. He has performed at weddings and church services for many years. So, it seemed like a natural progression to open a music store to provide music to others. Johnnie and his wife are among the very few African-American music...
Shenae Wilson loves providing a musical instrument in the lives of the young children who come into her store. She feels blessed that she and her husband work so closely with local churches and that they play a role in the worship music created in their customer churches. As founders of Keyboard...
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...
Randy Wood is the president of The Music Shoppe in Normal, Illinois. The store specializes in band instrument repairs and strong customer service.  The store goes back to the days when a former college band director, John Noonan opened a small retail and repair store.  In 1961, Randy's father, Tom...
Loren Zimmerman owned Byerly Music in Peoria, Illinois during the 1970s and 80s and is credited for being among the first music retailers to have locations in shopping malls.  When he purchased the company from his father-in-law, Eldred Byerly (who served as President of the NAMM Board from 1963-...

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