JAN. 4 I William Joseph McCormick, Jr. I TRIBUTES
William McCormick Remembered
William Joseph McCormick, Jr., 69, died at his Potomac, Md. home on Dec. 24, 2007, after losing a battle with cancer.
Born in Springfield, Mass., McCormick graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and received a master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.
He executed a financial turnaround of a sugar mill in the Philippines, then was hired by the Checci and Co. consulting firm in 1971 to turn around Jordan Kitt's Music. He bought the company five years later. McCormick trimmed the number of stores tripled its sales volume to about $40 million in recent years.
McCormick was known as one of the keyboard industry’s brightest business executives. With laser focus, marketing savvy and an eye for sales talent and business systems, McCormick effectively operated one of the world’s leading multi-store music retailing chains.
“It’s a talent-driven business,” McCormick told Music Inc. in 1997. “The common denominator in any successful commission sales organization is talented people.”
Under McCormick’s management, store managers were treated as the proprietors of the location. In fact, he felt it was important to have two strong leaders at each store, a merchant leader and a business manager.
“The merchant drives the sales organization as well as the merchandise,” he told Music Inc. “Then, you have to have the business manager making sure that all this activity is producing proper results. It’s a left-brain, right-brain relationship. Too much love for the product can get you into trouble, but so can too much attention to the numbers.”
Although he never learned to play the piano, McCormick was a major supporter and promoter of music. He often hosted world-class pianists taking part in the William Kapell International Piano Competition at the University of Maryland.
As member of the board of the Washington Performing Arts Society and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, McCormick donated 103 pianos (and 15 piano movers) to the Kennedy Center for the 2005 concert “100 Pianos,” the largest massed concert of pianos ever staged in Washington as part of the Festival of China.
McCormick was a board member of NAMM and the Business Bank in Vienna. He was also the founder of a family charitable foundation.
“We’ve lost one of the guiding lights of the keyboard industry,” said Frank Alkyer, publisher of Music Inc. “Under his direction, Jordan Kitts made it a habit of winning every industry award available to them and many times over, that includes our Retail Excellence Awards. He was direct. He was on target. He never pulled punches. He was a brilliant business leader. Luckily, he was also a very good teacher. There are a slew of top executives in this industry who will continue the Bill McCormick school of business professionalism and excellence. That’s the stamp he left on this industry.”
McCormick is survived by three children, two sisters and four grandchildren. His wife, Jeanne McCormick, died in July 2007.
Donations may be made in memory of William J. McCormick, Jr. to the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org.