The Music Inc. Rex Award
By Chuck and Brenda Surack
Owners, Sweetwater Sound
As most of you know by now, Sweetwater Sound has been on the Inc. magazine list of the top 500 fastest-growing companies in the nation for the last three years. That's a real honor, particularly since no other music retailer made it to that list during any of those three years. But it's an even bigger honor when people within the music industry recognize us for our efforts.
In the August 1996 issue of Music Inc., one of the music industry's top trade publications, Sweetwater received the magazine's REX Award for retailing excellence based upon our innovative customer communications.
Retailers are only awarded a REX after being nominated by other people in the music business, which of course makes the award all the more flattering. One of our nominators said: "What separates them from everyone else is they know how to market."
We take that as a sincere compliment, but what others may view as marketing, we see as keeping our customers as up-to-date and well-informed as possible. We believe that's the best way to make sure people who are spending their money get the best possible product for their individual application. Let's face it, with hundreds of thousands of musicians in the U.S. alone, there are going to be all sorts of varied needs, from keyboards to PA and sound reinforcement to computer-based recording and sequencing and everything in between.
That's why we were the first music retailer in the nation to publish a newsletter on a regular basis (longtime customers may remember when Sweet Notes was just a four-page black and white flyer back in the early 1980s - how far we've come!). We were also the very first music retailer to maintain a full-time presence on the Internet, and according to the feedback we get every day from our customers, we're still the very best source of comprehensive information on the World Wide Web. We were also the very first company to introduce high quality videos as a way of providing valuable information to our valued customers.
Most recently, we've begun an intensive program to develop audio CDs that effectively demonstrate new products. A prime example is the recent Korg Trinity audio CD produced by Daniel Fisher and the folks in our Soundware Development Facility (with a lot of help from our in-house recording studio, of course). Customers have been literally ecstatic over these things! They've been going so fast, we've already had to go to our second pressing on these discs, as well as the audio CD demo disk of our Sweetwater CD ROMs for the Kurzweil K2000 and K2500.
While we love to win awards and get recognized for our efforts, what's really important to everyone here at Sweetwater is that you, the customer, get the service and support you need and deserve. We're always interested in hearing from you, whether it's via the Net, e-mail, fax or even the good-old U.S. postal service. We read each and every letter, mailing or fax personally (really!) and we take very seriously every suggestion you might have. We are totally committed to having Sweetwater continue as the industry leader and to provide musicians around the world with the quality tools and information that they need to make the very most of their music-making experience.
Given the fact that Sweetwater is indeed the fastest-growing music retailer, you might not be surprised to learn that we will be once again expanding our facility here in Ft. Wayne. Those of you who have been here in person know how huge our existing building is and have probably seen our giant warehouse which is always filled to the ceiling with thousands of the very latest products.
In fact, our warehouse has become so jammed with gear lately that we've been forced to design a brand new warehouse that will actually be bigger than our entire existing facility (all three stories)! By the time you read this, we will probably already have begun construction on this gigantic structure which will probably be completed within a matter of months (honest, we really need the space - we're afraid one of our shipping people might actually disappear for days back there among all that equipment).
Once the warehouse is complete, we'll begin adding office space in our main building, then begin construction early next year on a brand new recording studio that will be designed by Russ Berger (his credits include Whitney Houston's studio and CNN among many others) making it one of the very best facilities of its kind in the entire nation. What's more, it will be so big that we'll actually be able to record a full 48-piece orchestra in the main room. We'll keep you posted.
One final note: Due to huge increases in the cost of mailing Sweet Notes internationally, we have been forced to discontinue sending copies to many of our customers overseas (you folks in Canada are still okay). You can call, fax or send us e-mail to find out if you're going to be affected. Of course, issues will still be posted on our Web Site or you can purchase a subscription for $18 if you want a "hard copy" for your files.
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