IDAHO FALLS — Within the 110 years of enterprise that the Idaho Falls-based Chesbro Music Firm has navigated, 2020 proved to be not solely essentially the most difficult however, in the long run, arguably essentially the most fruitful for family-focused enterprise.
“We have been making selections typically each quarter-hour when the pandemic hit final March,” firm President Tana Stahn stated.
Stahn, the great-granddaughter of founder Horace Chesbro, stated the COVID-19 pandemic “was unbelievable.”
“We needed to deal with our college students, our employees, our prospects,” Stahn stated, including that the unfold of the coronavirus began impacting its producers in Asia as early as January 2020. “We have been making so many selections — large selections that have been affecting lots of people related with our firm.”
Stahn supported the state’s response to the pandemic however acknowledged that Chesbro, like so many different native companies, frightened about what it meant to shut their enterprise’s doorways for weeks at a time.
However, like all companies that survive and even thrive for many years on finish, Chesbro has weathered hardships all through its historical past. Horace Chesbro based the enterprise in 1911 after leaving Seattle for the Rocky Mountains. The household and the enterprise have endured world wars, the Nice Melancholy and two pandemics. It has additionally handled private tragedies, together with a airplane crash that killed Stahn’s grandfather, Henry Chesbro, who had taken the reins of the enterprise after Horace’s loss of life simply three years prior.
Stahn’s mom, Joan Chesbro, was left to run the enterprise as a younger lady within the early Nineteen Fifties. The June 1953 airplane crash in California that killed Henry Chesbro additionally took the lives Joan’s mom, Mary Jane Chesbro, and Joan’s solely brother, Paul Chesbro. Joan Chesbro left her administration coaching place with Wells Fargo financial institution — which she had taken simply after her commencement from Stanford College at age 21 — to return again to Idaho Falls to run the enterprise alongside her grandmother, Ella, who was in her 70s at the moment.
“The trade gave her six months to fail,” stated Stahn, who began serving to at Chesbro on the tender age of 8.
Stahn finally would run the corporate together with her sister Vanetta Griggs Wilson till Wilson’s loss of life in 2013.
Because the world began slowly arising for air after COVID-19 shutdowns final yr, Chesbro peered out over the panorama questioning, like many, how would this pandemic play out?
“We found that whereas individuals have been dwelling, they have been discovering or rediscovering music,” Stahn stated.
And it was right here in that second that Chesbro shifted with the occasions, prefer it all the time had within the face of adversity.
“The perfect a part of the pandemic has been studying tips on how to do issues in several methods,” Stahn stated.
A legacy of entry
Music is a common language and Chesbro embodies that axiom.
Susan Christensen, who has taught music in public colleges for nearly 30 years and was named the 2018 Chesbro Music Teacher of the Year as a instructor at Teton Center College in Driggs, credited the corporate for making music accessible to generations of scholars.
“Earlier on in my profession, there have been some shops who weren’t keen to hire to people who didn’t have papers,” Christensen stated.
She continued, “Gary Christensen (no relation) was the supervisor of the Chesbro retailer in Rexburg again within the day. He all the time stated if a scholar was keen to pay to hire an instrument, then they might get an instrument. Chesbro refused the racist narrative that you just wanted papers to make music and the legacy of that entry is discovered within the generations of households that also share their devices handed down from sibling to sibling, classmate to classmate.
“This valley is stuffed with music and Chesbro owns a lot of that credit score.”
Christensen stated college students would come to highschool with sandwich baggies stuffed with all of the cash they might discover so they might hire an instrument, and Chesbro would work with everybody to ensure they might entry musical devices.
The identical customary was utilized when the pandemic reached East Idaho. Chris Kasper is the retail gross sales supervisor for Chesbro. When colleges weren’t in a position to provide music classes in COVID-safe environments, Kasper employed music educators to show free classes to any scholar who needed them and hosted these classes on the Idaho Falls retailer, which has a big house that may safely accommodate academics and college students.
“I put the phrase out in regards to the free classes and it went loopy,” Kasper stated. “And we didn’t restrict the teachings to simply band and orchestra. We had youngsters signing up for guitar, ukulele, drums, bass and piano. The academics have been having a ball and the youngsters have been having a blast.”
Kasper is averaging 85 college students who present up for 35- to 45-minute courses twice per week. He stated this is only one instance of why the corporate stays profitable.
“Tana’s capacity to belief workers to be inventive on behalf of the better good of the enterprise is exclusive,” he stated.
“To listen to these youngsters exterior of my workplace is simply great,” Stahn stated of the teachings. “Our backside line has all the time been to help music training. We have been Facetiming with households for recitals and giving grandparents a possibility to look at their grandchildren carry out in a brand new manner that was protected throughout the pandemic. It’s these new concepts that I hope will proceed.”
The subsequent quarter-hour to the following 110 years
The corporate continues to hold on the household custom with Stahn’s daughter JennieLee, a fifth-generation member of the family, at the moment working as her mom’s assistant.
Stahn’s brother Scott Griggs serves as a board member and her husband, Dan, retired in 2011 after working for Chesbro for 27 years. Dan Stahn died from COVID-19 in December 2020.
Lately, Chesbro has labored to increase its wholesale distribution logos to incorporate their very own Teton Guitars, Tanara Guitars, CMC Percussion and Future Primitive (musical jewellery replicas).
In 2019, Chesbro bought logos from an Indiana-based firm that broadened its nationwide attain to incorporate banjos, ukuleles and audio and technical logos. Chesbro additionally opened a gross sales workplace on the Indiana website, buying the staff of the previous firm as properly.
“The range of devices and utilizing numerous distribution channels of what we do has not modified in over 100 years,” Stahn stated. “It’s held us properly.”
The Chesbro web site says that when Horace Chesbro and his spouse, Ella, moved to the Idaho Falls space in 1911, “he introduced with him these beliefs: Maintain your self accountable. Foster music in others. Give again to the group.”
Generations later, his descendants proceed to uphold these beliefs.
“I’ve superb workers round me that care about prospects, college students and music and who care about carrying on the traditions,” Stahn stated. “After I look again on the modifications, my grandfather and great-grandfather could be amazed.”
For extra details about Chesbro, go to chesbroretail.com.