Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#703500 - 02/24/04 07:32 AM Where the Motto Is, We Work in Harmony to Ply a Lost Trade
Piano World Offline



Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5585
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (orig. Nahant...
© New York Times
By ANNA BAHNEY

Published: February 24, 2004


IF Timothy Fink has a pet peeve about running a pipe organ company, it is spending tens of thousands of dollars to train employees only to have them leave. That, and being greeted by church secretaries with, "the piano man is here."

Mr. Fink, 39, who started Timothy Fink & Company in Port Chester, N.Y., in 1997 after working in the organ building field for 19 years, views labor turnover as an anticipated cost. "I think everyone finds out when you start to run a business," he said, "it's hard to find people with a work ethic."

With a staff of six, Mr. Fink set up his company in the expensive and, he feels, underserved New York market. The company makes organs with electro-pneumatic action — a process in which an electric signal from the keyboard is used to move a leather pouch or bellow to make a sound. It also restores and rebuilds organs mostly in the Northeast (including the organ at Harvard Divinity School). Its largest project to date is a new $350,000 organ for Grace Lutheran Church in Naples, Fla.

Doug Keilitz and Stephan Drexler make house (of worship) calls for sick organs. They also assist Mr. Fink with what they call research and development of organ design — a task that can only absorb so much technological improvement because organs are expected to handle a historical body of musical literature.

Mr. Keilitz, 46, has been an organist and repair technician for about 30 years. He works in Port Chester four days a week, splitting his time between another part-time job as a choir director and organist. On a recent day he was assembling a bellow out of wood and rubber cloth. "It is part of a whole big larger assembly," he explained. "It looks like a silly little thing, but it is actually a very important part."

Mr. Drexler, 38, has only been with the company since January, but has worked with organs for 20 years. "If there isn't something that presents itself for you to learn, you can find something to learn," he said. "This instrument is never done evolving."

Bruce Lockhart, the office manager, commutes from Teaneck, N.J., for a 6:30 a.m. to noon shift four days a week (he starts early to ease his drive). Retired from Chase bank, the 60-year-old Mr. Lockhart has played the organ since he was 11.

"At least I understand the lingo when people call from a church and say there's a funny noise in the organ," he said.

ERIC MAYER, 28, a pipe maker who also plays bass and guitar, was listening to rock music in the windowed shop that fronts Pearl Street. He had been doing heating and air-conditioning installation when he started looking for a career change five years ago. After he saw a notice that said, "Organ builders wanted," Mr. Mayer applied out of curiosity. While he has yet to learn the tuning of pipes, he wants to continue. "I had a couple friends come and check out the shop, to see what I do," he said. "No one can really believe it. It's a lost trade."

Ramón Alvarez, 31, and Gustavo Méndez, 25, work in the high-ceilinged wood shop measuring, drilling and fitting the toe-boards, a panel used to hold the pipes in place. Mr. Alvarez, who said his father was a carpenter in Peru, was a cabinetmaker when he came to the United States until he began working on organs three years ago.

"I was born into the wood," he said. But organs, he said, are more complicated. "I'm still learning. So many pieces, so many details. A little mistake on the end is going to be a big problem and you're going to have to take the whole thing apart and fix it."

Mr. Méndez, who was an electrician, is boring holes into the toe-board. Following measurements on a sheet of paper, he explained that the holes "all have different diameters depending on the pipe and how high you want it to sit. It is like following blueprints."

Mr. Fink's largest cost is payroll for his employees, which last year was about $277,000 out of $483,000 in fixed expenses (that included materials, rent and machinery leases). The employees have workers' compensation and are offered health insurance (the company pays two-thirds; the employee is expected to pay a third), which "is a huge price to pay," he said. "It is one of the most amazing costs. It goes up constantly."

This investment makes labor the greatest asset for Mr. Fink — in addition to his tone-attuned ears that he covers quickly when a siren goes by or a power saw starts up.

"I have to give them timely raises, to keep them interested," he said of his employees. "Because they are valuable. I'm competing with other builders that are out in the Midwest and other places where you can buy a house for $70,000, and pay someone $12 an hour. The highest-paid guy here is almost $25 an hour, and that is still not enough to buy a house."

But for woodworkers and electric work, Mr. Fink said his competition is not as much with other organ builders as it is with "people running a business in an expensive area" and "competing for employees and trying to keep them."

While he has large cash volume because of the cost of organs, the flow is not always easy. It took a year to sell the company's idea to the church in Naples, six months to design the organ and a year to build it. The organ is to be delivered in July, followed by a month of installation and six weeks of regulating the tone.

"Building an organ is like building a building," Mr. Fink said. "The whole institution has to decide that this is what they want. It is not a whimsical purchase."

So how do you ever sell an organ?

"You preach to the choir," Mr. Fink said without flinching. "Literally. And you talk to the organist."
_________________________
- Frank B.
Founder / Host
www.PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Twitter.com/PianoWorld
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
Estonia L-190, Yamaha P-80, Hammond XK-3, Hammond A-100, Estey 1895 Pump Organ
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!
Coming to Maine? We're in Parsonsfield (southwest) let's get together!


Top
#703501 - 02/24/04 07:51 AM Re: Where the Motto Is, We Work in Harmony to Ply a Lost Trade
ChemicalGrl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/03/01
Posts: 643
Loc: Durham, North Carolina
That is a great story, Frank, thanks for sharing it!
_________________________
Regards,
Lyn F.

Top
#703502 - 02/24/04 08:12 AM Re: Where the Motto Is, We Work in Harmony to Ply a Lost Trade
stevekk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/03
Posts: 72
Loc: São Paulo - BRAZIL
Great article, Frank.
Thank you. Best wishes,
stevekk

Top

What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
ad (Casio)
Celviano by Casio Rebate
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Kissin plays...
by JoelW
09/16/14 07:33 PM
For Sale : True Keys Pianos (bundle) American,Italian,Ger
man

by imyself
09/16/14 05:51 PM
Dream Keys Complete - Your Opinion Please
by Vas
09/16/14 04:56 PM
First tuning my piano with TuneLab
by Pablo Arturi
09/16/14 04:03 PM
Getting back into it
by Upside
09/16/14 03:32 PM
Who's Online
124 registered (Anne'sson, anotherscott, ando, Augustina, 255, 34 invisible), 1164 Guests and 18 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
76224 Members
42 Forums
157569 Topics
2314461 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission