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A Family Making Sweet Business Tunes

SYOSSET, N.Y. ( TheStreet) -- Everyone says the key ingredient to an entrepreneur's success is the passion that person has for their business. For a business that started on a leap of faith, nowhere is that more evident than at Paul Effman Music Service.

Thirty years ago, Paul Effman decided to take a chance based on his love for teaching music. As the head of the music department at a Long Island public high school, he noticed a void in music education in his surrounding area, particularly in private Catholic high schools. He decided to take a leave of absence to see if those schools would be open to music lessons for students through a financially self-sufficient program run by an independent company. He gave himself one year to try out the idea.

In his first year of business, about 10 schools agreed to Effman's program. Somehow he found the time to teach at every one of those schools while handling the bookkeeping and instrument purchasing and servicing for the students who rented them, among other things.

For a business that was fueled by one man's passion, today, the company serves 450 private schools with 15,000 students in nine states, primarily on the East Coast, but also California. It has 103 contract employees between teachers and administrative staff, two-thirds of which are full-time employees. The company declined to share its annual revenue and profit numbers.

There is another vital piece to its success -- Paul's three children and wife Kathe are all heavily involved.

"He borrowed money from his mother. She never expected to see it back. He paid it back within two months. He never went back [to teaching full time] and then proceeded to start growing the business," according to Hutch Effman, 35, the eldest of Paul and Kathe's three children and the company's CEO.

The company does not work with public schools since they typically already have music programs in place and paid for within the school budget. Instead, it markets the program to tuition-based schools.

The schools "really don't have an official fund to pay for the service for the students. It's easier for the schools to have us come in. [Schools] love the fact that there is no additional responsibility on them to handle the finances and collect money. Because the parents are paying tuition to the schools, [they] expect to pay for the band as well," Hutch says.
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