Donald Conder 1925-2011
Conder’s Piano Service was started by my father, Don Conder, in 1954. Using training he received while attending The North Carolina School for the Blind, experience in tuning and rebuilding pianos at Jack Call Piano Company in Charlotte and Kidd Frix Pianos in Concord, he set out on his own. He overcame problems common to the visually impaired, such as transportation, and never turned back. Through word of mouth advertising, his building reputation allowed him to acquire client after client, until his schedule was always full; pianos everywhere!
As a child, my first memories of my father include pianos, somehow. Sometimes I look back and think that maybe it was a sneaky “trick” how, when I was 4 or 5 years old, Dad had me convinced that repairing piano actions was “playing”, but I cherish the memories, spending that always-too-rare time with my hardworking dad, standing on a stool to reach the workbench to install bridle straps on an action.
By the time I reached my teens, I knew that I wanted to be a Piano Technician. My father patiently taught me the craft thoroughly, and also exposed me to training by several other Technicians and in other piano shops. But the most important thing that my Dad taught me was the importance of ethics and responsibility to each client. After over 35 years in the business, I still remember the words of advice he would tell me over and over: “If you please a customer, they might tell someone else about it….but if you disappoint a customer, they will tell everyone they know!” Dad always served each customer with that in mind, and he retained the patronage of many of his clients through generations. I often find myself tuning pianos with my father’s service record stickers inside, containing dates from 30 to 50 years ago. I’m filled with pride when I realize that my Dad tuned my client’s piano when it had belonged to their parents or grandparents.
Unlike many piano service companies, we do not contact past customers to remind them it is time to have their pianos tuned again (soliciting business). Instead, we provide information to them concerning time limits before a lack of service either will have a derogatory effect on the piano, or increase the cost of service.
Armed with that information, our clients can make their own decision about when to have their piano tuned, based on their own specific needs. Because we have remained consistently available to handle any requirement our clients may have for their pianos, most of our customers have been with us for many years. Always considering our clients’ best interests, if they require a service, if I know of a provider that may offer a better price or more specialized expertise, I always suggest they consider that option. Over the years, we have developed many contacts in the piano business.
With this philosophy, I have acquired the most important benefit my business provides: valued friendships with not only my clients, but also with my competition.
Conder’s Piano Service is a family business. From its inception, my mother, Mabel Conder has always helped out by answering the phone and helping to book appointments. (She and my father were high school sweethearts at the North Carolina School for the Blind.) My only sister, Ellen, helped with transportation when she started driving, and even today she helps with many aspects of the business, such as maintaining this very website.
Although I have no brothers, I’ve always had great friends who have worked with me in my shop over the years. Some have pursued their own piano businesses, and others have moved on to other jobs, but now work in my shop on a part time basis. Much like my father’s “trick” when I was a child, I’ve convinced them to have a love for the craft and a pride in their work. That keeps them coming back. My shop helpers have each worked with me for decades. They understand the attention to detail that I expect, and never let me down.
For half a century Conder’s Piano Service has remained in the same location where I work today, with the same phone number, which is also in my home, on my nightstand every night. This is only possible because I have always worked to be fair and honest, and, to the absolute best of my ability, to satisfy every customer, employee, business associate, and personal acquaintance I have ever had.
Conder’s Piano Service has grown over the years, but mostly it has evolved into a specific niche of the piano industry focusing more on quality than quantity. My desire is for this business to remain small enough that I can continue to personally oversee every aspect. This allows me to carefully protect the reputation of the Conder name established by my father and entrusted to me when he turned the business over to me so many years ago.
– Rick Conder, Owner