New piper calling the tune

If you’re serving your third generation of customers, it might be time to think about succession planning.

If you’re serving your third generation of customers, it might be time to think about succession planning.

Richard Chabot said this observation was made by his brother and business partner Ron Chabot, and it helped persuade then to sell their 53rd Street Music store to St. John’s Music.

The deal, which closed on Friday, resulted in the 4902 53rd St. business becoming the ninth store in St. John’s Music’s chain. The 88-year-old Winnipeg-based music retailer operates in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, including at Edmonton and Calgary.

Richard said St. John’s Music’s business philosophy was important to him and Ron as they pondered the sale.

“There were other parties that could have been considered. The fit seemed better with this company.

“Their model was similar to ours and they expressed that they don’t really want to deal with wholesale changes.

“For us, that was really important in terms of staff, teachers and community.”

Keith Brenneman, St. John’s Music’s general manager, confirmed on Monday that it will be business as usual.

“There won’t be any changes there. If anything, we’ll probably find some additional products to put in there.”

Even the 53rd Street Music name will remain for now, he said.

“We don’t want to take anything away from the entrepreneurial spirit that’s already been created.”

Brenneman believes local customers will benefit from St. John’s Music’s size and buying power, as well as its broader resources.

Richard agreed, pointing to St. John’s Music’s strength in areas like band instruments and acoustic pianos.

Brenneman said Red Deer is appealing because of its location between Calgary and Edmonton, the strong local market that 53rd Street Music has helped develop, and the business’s close relationship with Red Deer College’s music program.

St. John’s Music actually employs a couple RDC graduates, including its marketing and purchasing manager, Craig Hynes.

Ron founded 53rd Street Music 30 years ago, originally as a Mr. Entertainment franchise. It later became an independent store operating as Music Station, with its current name adopted in 2002. That was also the year Richard joined the operation.

Two years ago, 53rd Street Music received a Business of the Year Award from the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce.

Despite being just 50 and 53 respectively, Richard and Ron felt it was important to plan for life after 53rd Street Music.

“I think to not consider some kind of exit plan when you’re in business is not very prudent,” said Richard, who previously worked as a certified general accountant.

The brothers will remain at the store for about a month to help with the transition. Other staff will continue to work there, said Brenneman.

The Chabots plan to devote more time to their families and recreational pursuits, said Richard. Beyond that, they aren’t sure what the future holds but do expect to find something new to do.

“It’s pretty hard to be in business your whole life and just walk away and not do anything.”

One thing is sure, he added.

“I have no desire to leave Red Deer, and Ron doesn’t either.

“Red Deer is an awesome place to do business in, and I think that’s the thing I’ll miss the most — not only the people you work with, but the customers.”

He and Ron, he said, owe a huge debt of gratitude to those customers — of all ages.