The people of our music products industry are like a sports team, made up of some of the most passionate and talented players who share common goals, drive, and ideals. One such member of this particular team was William 'Bill' Reglein who embraced the goal to bring music to everyone who has a desire to play because the benefits are endless. We are proud when a child makes their first sound on an instrument and prouder still when they learn to express themselves with music. One day when a list is compiled of this amazing team’s coaches, look for Bill’s name because it will be there...in bold.
Bill was a man of great integrity, who was dedicated to his family, staff, and industry. When he passed away at the age of 71 on October 17, 2019, a true feeling of loss was felt by the many who knew him and of his contributions to music.
We knew he had health concerns, but his passing still came as a shock to many. Perhaps I was in denial that this very special person could leave us. Bill was a titan and titans don’t die.
We met in 1998 when I attended my first NAMM Show and over the years we sought to visit and have a meal at every opportunity. He provided me with a deep understanding of his company’s background, the rich history of Elkhart, Indiana’s role in our industry, both past, and present, and a rather close up view of how to balance your priorities when you want to do the best for your employees and customers while still running a successful business. Bill was a master of balance and he made sure that his personal balance included meaningful time with this family (building birdhouses with his grandchildren comes to mind).
I wish I could share with you all the moments that meant so much to me, but suffice it to say, each and every time I saw Bill, it was special.
Bill played a key role in the growth and development of the jj Babbitt Company since taking over its presidency from his father, Bud. Bill’s great uncle, Jessie James Babbitt, was the company’s founder, and he began creating musical instrument mouthpieces out of his small garage in Elkhart. The company, in large part due to Bill’s efforts, has grown to include several well-known mouthpiece names and has developed into a place where musicians count on top-quality production and even custom-made products. Bill also did all everything in his power to strengthen our industry by supporting educational conferences, donating to The NAMM Foundation’s Museum of Making Music, and taking out ads to benefit music programs around the world. In addition to this, I have countless firsthand accounts demonstrating Bill’s ability to excel as a supportive boss who provided a family feeling within the company by caring and helping whenever possible. Bill was never one to toot his own horn, so his many friends (including me) would jump at every opportunity to do it for him.
I must say, I miss him and sure wish he was still here.
To view clips from both of Bill's NAMM Oral History Interviews, please click here.
Dan Del Fiorentino