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Conn-Selmer’s Stoner Retires

Conn-Selmer Inc. announced that John Stoner, president and CEO of the company, has retired effective Aug. 30. Stephen Zapf has been selected to take on the role and formally joined the company on John Stoner Sept. 3. Stoner has been with Conn-Selmer for 17 years, and he has made a significant impression on the music industry since joining the company in 2002. “I sincerely appreciate having had the opportunity to work with all of the employees of Conn-Selmer, all the dealers, educators and artists in this incredible industry,” said Stoner. “I am extremely proud of all that Conn-Selmer has accomplished during my tenure, and that we have been able to continue the legacy of producing musical instruments in the United States. I would like to thank everyone for the support, guidance and encouragement you have provided me during my 17 years with the company. Although I will miss everyone and the company, I am looking forward to the next chapter that lies in front of me.” Zapf’s great-grandfather and grandfather started Zapf’s Music in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1928, and it was from an early age that his love of music and the music industry was born. “John has been a friend and tireless supporter of music education for many years; he leaves big shoes to fill, and I know that we will all miss him,” said Zapf. “It is my honor to build on his legacy and lead Conn-Selmer through a new era of growth and innovation in music around the globe.”

In Memoriam: Bill Hagner

William “Bill” Hagner of Fort Myers, Fla., passed away on Aug. 25. He was 96. Hagner figured highly in the history of Gretsch. He started working at Gretsch on December 1, 1941, just six days prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Having just finished high school, he answered an ad in the paper for someone to work in Gretsch’s factory at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn, N.Y. Starting out as a clerk, he was told by the company’s vice president, “Someday, this is going to be big company. So, if you have any interest in a career, I advise you to learn what you’re doing and stay with it.” Hagner took this advice to heart. One of Hagner’s early jobs was to prepare payroll for the factory workers. All jobs were done as “piece work” at the time, and Hagner had to review William “Bill” Hagner and approve individual pay slips for each job. When he didn’t understand an operation that was being paid for, he’d go to the worker and say, “Explain what you’re doing to me.” In that way, he eventually became knowledgeable about every operation taking place, preparing him to become plant manager down the road. He went on to become personally responsible for overseeing all Gretsch manufacturing. But Hagner’s wartime tenure at Gretsch didn’t last long. Like so many members of what has been dubbed “the greatest generation,” he entered military service in January of 1943. As a member of the Army Air Force, he became a glider pilot, conducting missions over the fields of Normandy during the D-Day invasion in 1944. At the end of the war, Hagner returned to work at Gretsch, where he eventually became plant manager in the Brooklyn factory. In 1967, the Gretsch Co. was sold to The Baldwin Piano Co., and operations were moved to Booneville, Ark. Hagner remained with Gretsch and had plant manager and sales manager roles during his tenure with Baldwin/Gretsch. When Baldwin filed for bankruptcy, current president Fred W. Gretsch and his wife, executive vice president and chief financial officer Dinah Gretsch, were able to buy the company back in 1984 and return it to family ownership. In 1985, Fred Gretsch wanted to move drum-making operations out of De Queen, Ark., and into Ridgeland, S.C. (where the Gretsch USA drum factory is still located today). Hagner was living in Fort Smith, Ark., at the time. He offered his services to help team building and assist in the moving of machinery and inventory. This help proved invaluable in getting the drum-making operation up and running in its new home. In fact, Hagner is the only individual in the long history of Gretsch to have held key posts in Brooklyn, Arkansas and South Carolina. “Bill was an innovator, a leader and an undeniably unique character,” said Fred Gretsch. “All told, he spent 58 years associated with Gretsch. His contributions over those years are a significant and unforgettable part of the Gretsch legacy. We cherish his memory, and we will truly miss him.” Donations in honor of Hagner may be made to The Salvation Army to support music programs worldwide.

Two icons together at last. Our Quick-Change® Capo is now available in classic sunburst finish.

MADE IN USA Since 1980 16


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