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A Family Making Sweet Business Tunes

Students pay the fees in eight monthly installments. This year students will pay a total of $424, plus the cost to rent an instrument (if they don't own one) which ranges from $109-$160 for the school year.

"Music is not to be considered a secondary class or an optional class. Music should be part of every curriculum [since] through playing or just experiencing it has great benefits [to children]. Studies show it improves SAT scores and helps with reading. The importance of music shouldn't be understated," Hutch says.

All in the family

Paul, 65, never assumed that all three of his children would one day be working in the company. While Hutch knew early on that he was interested in working with his father, he says his sister, Lucy, 33, and brother, Jesse, 31, did not. All three siblings held various corporate jobs before coming back home.

"We all have a vested interest in not only making the business run successfully, but making sure we are all happy," Hutch says. "Naturally, little things can be brought into the office -- someone is having a bad day, you know about it -- but generally there really aren't any cons" to working with family.

Hutch also gives credit to Lou Varuzzo, the company's director of education and CFO, and one of his father's longest-tenured employees. Varuzzo started working for Paul more than 20 years ago as a teacher and has played a major part in helping expand the music services. The Effmans consider Varuzzo and the family members he brought in to the business as essentially another arm of their clan. (Varuzzo's younger brother Justin runs Hyson Music, the online retail store, with Jesse Effman.)

A Juilliard trained musician, Lou is "one of the rare people who worked for my dad as if he had a stake in the business," Hutch says. "You don't find many people who live and breathe it like he does. His passion for the educational service and for helping it grow ... has made him the most essential person to work with."

Spreading out

As successful as the company is, the recession struck a sour note, but the challenge also presented an opportunity, Hutch says. As a result, Paul Effman Music Service has expanded into several different revenue lines, all of which are thriving.

"We couldn't be a sitting duck with what was going on with the economy. Since we deal mostly with private schools, we saw in many different areas a decline in student enrollment because fewer families were sending them to tuition-based schools," Hutch acknowledges.

Seeing the opportunity in the digital world, Paul Effman Music Service got to work on creating the online retail distributor of instruments under the brand, Hyson Music. It is a full dealership of all major instrument brands, including Yamaha and Casio, as well as LJHutchen, the company's proprietary line.
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