For the music retailer that traces its history back to 1921 and to the second-floor Downtown studio Mil Averwater opened to give piano lessons, 2013 is a time of reflection, celebration and pride in a few impressive numbers.
C. J. Averwater and father, Chip Averwater, at Amro Music check over their line of violins. The business has been open for 92 years.
(Daily News File Photo: Dennis Copeland)
The retailer is Amro Music, which has been in the music business for 92 years. And the numbers the store takes pride in are the tenures of its seasoned staff.
Most of Amro’s current employees have been with the company for more than 12 years. Twelve employees have been with the store for more than 20 years, and five have been with the store for more than 30 years.
Experience like that essentially means the store’s legacy walks through the front door every day to turn on the lights, step behind the counter, sell instruments to customers and teach budding musicians to play.
Rick Jefferies is the company’s vice president who began in band sales and later became manager of the piano department.
“I’m now selling and renting pianos to parents who bought their first band instrument from me to start seventh grade band,” he said.
Amro has a staff of a little more than 60. Many of them have made a second career out of working at Amro, some of whom retired from jobs in music education and others having been musicians who played with stars like James Brown and Isaac Hayes.
April 10 marked the store’s 92nd anniversary.
In a statement about the milestone, Amro chairman Chip Averwater said the company was founded as a two-man operation by his grandfather and a business partner. Since then, the family has devoted four generations to Amro.
The store’s humble beginnings date back to Averwater’s studio originally at 166 S. Main St. It grew over time, starting with piano lessons and then the addition of lessons for saxophone, banjo and guitar.
The success of Amro Studios, as it was then known, was helped by the do-it-yourself way Averwater advertised: He opened the windows to let people hear the sound of the pianos being played.
When passersby stepped inside out of curiosity, the selling began.
Today, Amro operates from a storefront at 2918 Poplar Ave. under the name Amro Music, and it’s a nationally recognized music retailer.