January 19, 2023 I by Drew Holmes
My Acquisition Story
I was displaying at the Wyoming Music Educator’s Conference in Cheyenne, Wyoming, when Ward Durrett, a fellow vendor at the show, approached me with an idea.
I knew Ward by his reputation as the man behind Drums West, a percussion and sound specialty dealer that was technically our competition. We had drum, percussion and sound reinforcement offerings at Boomer Music, but I would hear time and again that when schools needed some “extra” attention they called Ward. I didn’t have percussion or electronics specialists on staff, so rather than focus on those products, I stuck to our core business of B&O.
Following my rule of “always take the meeting,” Ward pitched his idea at lunch that day: “How about we join forces? I’m reaching a point where being on my own makes less sense, and I think what we do complements each other nicely.”
This was something I had never considered. I previously acquired a repair technician and his one-man-shop, but that deal had been essentially starting from scratch as far as in-house offerings and clientele. What Ward offered was existing and enthusiastic clients, as well as physical products to support them.
Expansion Through Acquisition
Running the numbers, it was obviously a good fit, so we sketched out a plan. Ward’s core competencies were completely different from what we had done in the past, so the opportunity for expansion was attractive. He would come on board and serve the Drums West and Boomer Music customers under the Boomer Music umbrella. We would immediately gain from reduced expenses — such as one rent and one phone bill — and potentially deepen our relationship with the current Boomer customers who did not yet know him.
Fortunately, Ward trusted me and my methods and was able to leverage this flexibility into serving the specific needs of the now-combined clientele. We aggressively focused on marching bands, and soon our expanded roster of marching band customers included top high schools and universities. Meeting the demands of these ensembles necessitated enhancing our meager electronics offerings, a line of products with which I had minimal experience.
When 2020 and remote school and work came, I wanted to offer solutions for people. With Ward’s electronics experience, I was confident in starting The Podcasting Store, a new website devoted to selling podcasting and remote-learning products, as well as educating people on how to effectively use this gear. However, first I needed to learn how to use that gear myself.
I immersed myself into podcasting, vlogging and teleconferencing, with Ward there every step of the way bringing my knowledge in alignment with my vision. When we found a gap in our collective knowledge, we worked on the problem until we found a solution. My inexperience let me ask the questions someone familiar with this gear would never ask, and his willingness to humor me created some amazing outcomes.
Having different client bases with distinctly different needs can create confusion, so we formalized the division with three different brand names. Drums West is percussion, while The Podcasting Store is all things electronic and recording. Boomer Music is, as it always has been, all about B&O. By separating the brands, we hoped to clarify how we could meet customers’ needs.
Last year, Ward retired from the day-to-day operations at Boomer Music and Drums West. While there’s no replacing someone with that depth of knowledge and breadth of experience, we’re positioned to continue serving our existing customer base, while expanding in any necessary direction. When I brought Ward on board and acquired Drums West, I knew I was buying a Rolodex and inventory. What I did not anticipate was finding a mentor and friend. MI
Drew Holmes is the owner of Boomer Music Company, ThePodcastingStore.com and DrumsWest.com. He is based in Fort Collins, Colorado.