April 11, 2022 I Cover Story
Managing The Flow
By Daniel Margolis
Say the name Roland and you’re probably going to think of certain products pretty quickly. Keyboards. Drum machines. But respondents to Music Inc.’s Supplier Excellence Awards polling reminded us that Roland is a dominant presence in a whole other sector of the market. A guitar-focused retailer described Roland as “the one manufacturer we can’t do without.”
Speaking to Music Inc., Roland US President and CEO Tony Price wasn’t shocked to hear this. “It’s not that surprising,” Price said. “Boss has been around since the late ’70s and established itself. We work hard with our advocate dealers to build success across all of our product categories, and, in the guitar end of things, of course, Boss is a powerhouse in amplifiers, pedals, multi-effects and accessories. So I get it.”
Meanwhile, in the past couple years, Roland has branched out further beyond musical instrument categories with Roland Lifestyle, the official line of Roland apparel. Price explained this was developed by popular demand. “It was developed in response to the growing demand from Roland fans around the world,” Price said, adding that this line is a collaboration between the company and Roland Lifestyle founder Nathan Chandra, a California-based venture builder who has served as Roland Lifestyle’s executive officer and creative director since the beginning of the pandemic. “He’s a very creative person, and he built a bridge between fashion and culture and music for everyone who loves the brand,” Price said.
All companies have had to deal with supply chain problems over the last year, and Roland is no exception. But, according to Price, the company has done so swimmingly.
“We have excellent teams across the globe, basically supply chain teams, our production units, our business units, and they’ve done an excellent job of navigating through the challenges,” he said. “It’s about procurement of parts and just managing the flow and being able to shift when you need to just to navigate shipping issues.”
Price doesn’t need to look at a PowerPoint presentation, an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Doc to grasp all this. He can just look outside. “I live in downtown Long Beach,” he said. “I look out overLong Beach and for many, many months it’s been super-congested, although they move the ships out further now and just, man, people [who] are really smart on our teams, managing through all those challenges, I think for us has delivered enough, a lot more inventory than you would’ve expected.”
Perhaps this explains why Price is quick to deflect attention away from himself in reacting to Roland winning a Supplier Excellence Award. “I’m extremely honored, and I’m really proud of our team,” he said. “It’s really a holistic approach with all the aspects of our business, from sales to dealer support to product support, finance, even at the executive level. Cross-company communication is key.”
Price spoke to Roland’s future by reflecting on its past. “This is our 50th anniversary this year, 2022. So, Roland’s known for innovation and quality, and we’re going to continue to bring [that] to inspire music and content creators at every stage of their journey.” MI