The MagazineMarketplaceEventsResourcesNewsContact

New Partnership Drives Gist Piano Center's Growth

Second-generation owner of Gist Piano Center, John Gist, and former Gist Director of Marketing James Harding have partnered up to run the 43-year-old store in Louisville, Ky., after founder Ron Gist has retired.

“We couldn’t be more opposite,” said Harding, who's a lifelong jazz pianist while Gist is a non-player with an economics background. “In a way, that’s what makes us work so well. We approach a problem from completely different viewpoints, but – when we arrive at a decision – it is usually the right one.”

The two began officially took over the company on Jan. 1, 2014. Throughout the year-long transition into leadership, Gist and Harding implemented a number of changes that have increased profit and modernized the store. According to Harding, Gist Piano Center was 50 percent more profitable in 2013 than in 2012 despite a relatively modest sales increase.

The growth came from a variety of new experiments. For example, they've has distanced themselves from traditional piano pricing and have moved towards a new "value meal" approach.

“Smartphones have made Internet access portable,” Harding said. “It’s easy for a client to stand in our showroom, pull out their cellphone and compare our prices with those of our competitors. We decided to offer a value-added bundle with each piano, including delivery, accessories, lessons and several years of piano service."