Ahead Of The Game – EPISODE 2: Joe Leaver (mobile piano tuning and restoration)
Welcome to Ahead of the Game, a podcast brought to you by KMT Partners. I am Andrew Montesi. In this episode, we share the fascinating story of the police officer who was moonlighting as a piano repair man until the piano service business took on a life of its own. But surprisingly Joe Leaver didn’t start out as a piano player. He got into the business by helping out in a family friend’s piano workshop. After spending a number of years learning the craft, he then decided to pursue an attentive career in the police force. But he never gave up the piano work, continuing to repair and service from the boot of his car between shifts. Now Joe has put his policing career on hold to grow his mobile piano service business. He now has a team, a workshop and store, and a broader suite of services. Joe talks about his story, the evolution of his business, the challenges and plans for the future. This podcast is brought to you by KMT Partners. KMT is a leading accounting and wealth management advisory firm in South Australia, assisting you to emerge, renew, grow and build resilience in business, things which are essential to this podcast series. For more information, visit kmtpartners.com.au. But for now, enjoy the interview with Joe Leaver.
Andrew Montesi: [00:01:22] Joe, welcome to the show.
Joe Leaver: [00:01:23] Thanks, Andrew. Thanks for having me.
Andrew Montesi: [00:01:25] So, the first question. My assumption is a man with a piano servicing business that you would have been a piano player. But I’m wrong.
Joe Leaver: [00:01:32] You’re wrong, yeah. Look, the piano industry is a pretty small industry. So, it’s a pretty small industry in general. My story I guess is a little different. A lot of people in the piano industry, like I said, it’s pretty small anyway, but a lot of people came into it via, they played piano, and then they did a tuning course. There’s a tuning course in Melbourne. There’s a few overseas. But mine is a bit different in that, I was never actually interested in piano. So, I sort of did fall into it, which I can go into a little bit later. But yeah, do you want me to elaborate on that now?
Andrew Montesi: [00:02:07] Just go into it.
Joe Leaver: [00:02:09] Basically, my story is I left school in the year 11. So, I was never overly academic at school. So, always sort of thought that I would do something with my hands. So, I grew up in Hobart in Tasmania. So, in the era, so we’re talking sort of mid to late 90s, apprenticeships were a big thing. So, I got to sort of year 10, 11, thought I was going to an apprenticeship. Couldn’t get an apprenticeship because it was very competitive at that time.
Andrew Montesi: [00:02:38] Oh, really.
Joe Leaver: [00:02:39] Yeah, so left school after year 10, couldn’t get an apprenticeship. So, I decided to go. The system then was a matriculation college. It’s called a technical college. So, went to a technical college and did year 11. Then sort of still thought… I had actually been working for a few years like kids do in small jobs and things like that. So, I wanted to get into the workforce. I think I was saying to someone the other day, the first time I actually had interaction with pianos was, like I said, never played piano before. I like piano music. I like music, but never actually played piano or played any musical instrument. But at the time, I was sort of 16, 17, didn’t have a license, so I used to catch the bus. Opposite the bus stop, a friend of our family had a big piano furniture restoration business. So, I sort of used to see all the pianos and furnitures going in and out, and sort of going in all sorts of forms and coming out restored. So, that side of it fascinated me, the actual process of the restoration. So, from a visual perspective initially, not so much from a musical side.
Andrew Montesi: [00:03:47] Okay. So, you were fascinated by it. How did you actually get involved?
Joe Leaver: [00:03:56] Yeah, so that friend of the family waiting at the bus stop one day. There was a coffee shop next door. So, we went across the road, sort of saw me, knew my parents. He said, hey Joe. How are you doing? I said, good. His name was Eric Hawks. He runs a business which is still there, still in operation today called Restored Pianos. Been there for about 60 years. So, he’s sort of saying out to me. I said, oh yeah. Then he said, oh what are you up to. I basically had a general conversation about how I was at school but sort of looking for an apprenticeship. It was just leading into a holiday, like a 6 week holiday period, the end of year holidays. He said, oh, why don’t you come and do a little bit of work for us, just helping out the tradesman, so just cleaning up and stuff like that. They run a furniture and paint restoration, just basically mimics of what we’ve got now. So, I’ve sort of copied his model to a degree. But yeah, asked me to do some holiday work there. Ended up there for nearly 6 years.
Andrew Montesi: [00:04:53] So, what was the first thing you learned about piano restoration?
Joe Leaver: [00:04:57] Sanding.
Andrew Montesi: [00:04:58] Sanding?
Joe Leaver: [00:04:59] Sanding, sanding and sanding. A large part of it, which I can go into later. But a large part of piano restoration is actually cabinet work. It’s a big wooden item. So, a large part of restoration work is we could break it down later. But say a piano restoration, they will vary. But say, 100 to 150 hours. 40 of that like a whole week for one person is actually the cabinet. So, the woodwork. So, stripping it all off and sanding and preparing the cabinet to be ready finished. So, the visual side of it. So, probably for the first 3 months all I did, and that’s a big drain on a restoration business like furnitures or pianos or whatever, anything to do with wood. Actually preparing wood is a lot of sanding, a lot of man hours.
Andrew Montesi: [00:05:42] What captured you about pianos?
Joe Leaver: [00:05:46] I think what I liked initially even though I wasn’t into pianos, I think it was the fact that there was lots of different parts to a piano. There’s a visual side. So, you’ve got the cabinet, the actual visual thing that you’re restoring, a visual thing that people look at, and then it’s going to end up in someone’s home. But there’s also a mechanical side to it. So, you’ve got a piano action, which I can go into later. But a mechanism in a piano which has got 2,000 moving parts in it. So, it’s actually a mechanical functioning thing. Then you’ve got the music side of it. So, you’ve got a musical item. So, I guess you’ve got visual, mechanical and musical which is something I had never been involved with. But went into that world. So, I started to get into it I guess.
Andrew Montesi: [00:06:36] One thing that fascinated me about pianos is they all seem to have a story. I always think, I wonder who’s played this.
Joe Leaver: [00:06:43] Yeah, I guess that’s one of the beautiful things about what we do. We’re actually working on something that’s 100 years old. Yeah, sometimes people, if we restore a piano for someone, they will tell you the story, so you know. Other times you’ve got to guess, and you get clues. Sometimes you can get little clues with pianos.
Andrew Montesi: [00:07:06] What are some of the interesting stories?
Joe Leaver: [00:07:07] I reckon the best one I ever had, this is about 5 years ago. Got a piano in to restore. Obviously you take out all the parts, take all the panels out of it. Don’t know if you can picture a piano. But the front of it as you see it, all those panels come off to reveal the inside. So, yeah, like restoring anything, the first part is actually dismantling it. So, you sort of see where your starting point is. So, we took all the panels out. In the bottom was a little note. Unfortunately, it had stopped in the 80s. So, it had obviously fallen somewhere. But it was actually stuck at some point up the top of the piano. Everybody had written where this piano had been.
Andrew Montesi: [00:07:47] Oh my goodness.
Joe Leaver: [00:07:48] So, obviously you get some pianos that have been in the family its entire life. But this particular one had been to a church in Darwin, moved back to Adelaide, over to a school in Western Australia, over to Ballarat. Someone had bought it privately. Then it ended up in a home there. Then it came back to Adelaide and Melbourne. It’s been everywhere.
Andrew Montesi: [00:08:05] That’s magnificent.
Joe Leaver: [00:08:07] Everybody had written on this little bit of paper where it had been, 1965 to 69 church in whatever or something like that. But unfortunately, that had fallen off and was in the bottom of the piano. So, it had stopped in 90s.
Andrew Montesi: [00:08:21] Oh no, that’s fascinating.
Joe Leaver: [00:08:23] Yeah, sometimes you don’t realise. I guess sometimes you’re talking to… Pianos obviously is not a person, but you talk to older people and they’ve got so much life experience. You don’t realise the things they’ve seen and the places they’ve been. Some of these pianos we were storing were around during the First World War, during the Second World War, before electricity, before cars. So, in a way, they have got their own little story.
Andrew Montesi: [00:08:51] You must feel like a real, strong sense of responsibility, even a bit of nervousness when you’re restoring and rebuilding these things.
Joe Leaver: [00:09:00] Yeah, I guess there is. I guess that’s a large part of where our business has come from and is going to in that, we’ve built up a bit of a niche around that scenario because we’re not buying an item, getting it out of a box, selling it and getting another. We’re finding something that’s had a long history, that can be up to 130 years old. They’ve been in different places. They mean things to people. They’ve been passed down. So, yeah, they all do. They have their own story. Sometimes mean a lot of people like things mean a lot to people. So, we’ve all got things in our life that are passed down to us. They may mean a lot because we live in a bit of throw away society these days. So, things like that to younger people now actually mean something, because they want that to continue. So, you’ve got to make sure you do your job.
Andrew Montesi: [00:10:00] Absolutely. So, to return to I guess your career progression, at what point did you become a police officer?
Joe Leaver: [00:10:08] Yeah, how can I start that one? I’ll try and condense it. Essentially, so I started working at the piano shop when I was sort of 16 and worked there, as I said, sort of fell into that. Worked there for 6 years in the end. So, did a couple of years of cabinet work, and then sort of decided, I want to learn a bit more about the interior. So, did all my training for the inside of pianos, so restoring actual mechanical side of it. Then I think like most people that get to sort of 22, 23 or been in a career for 6 years, gone were the days where we stayed in the same thing for our entire lives. I sort of thought, wouldn’t mind just trying something different. My dad was a police officer for 30 years. I sort of wanted to advanced myself academically because things made a lot more sense, and I had actually done a lot of theory with piano work. So, learning to tune, there’s a lot of musical and mathematical theory that you do. That sort of taught me, you know I’m not stupid. I can actually learn. I just wasn’t so much into academia or schooling when I was younger. A pathway to that I guess was I decided that one of the, I guess, it’s a long way to answer your question, sorry. I’ll get there in the end.
Andrew Montesi: [00:11:27] No, that’s fine.
Joe Leaver: [00:11:30] But it was a combination of change of career, wanting to advance myself academically and wanted a bit of a challenge. So, applied for the police force in Hobart and actually got knocked back because I didn’t have enough schooling, and because I couldn’t swim properly, believe it or not. Because Hobart, Tasmania is an island, there’s a large focus, unfortunately, it’s a horrible thing to go into, but they have a lot of drownings and things or water related incidents. So, there’s not so much of a focus on mainland Australia in police force. But in Tasmania, one of the entry requirements is you’re a strong swimmer. I left school in year 11, so didn’t have enough schooling. So, the Tasmania police basically said, you don’t have enough schooling. You can’t go back to year 12 at 23. But we will accept a year at university if you go into that. That was a really big thing for me going to university when I had left school at almost 15 or 16. Now you sort of just get in I think. But I had to actually apply to go to university, sit in an exam because I didn’t have year 12. So, I sat an academic, like a written exam. Got into university, did a year. Then reapplied, and actually ended up joining a life saving course as well, like a [inaudible 00:12:49] course in swimming. So, got those two things. Went back, joined the police force.
Andrew Montesi: [00:12:54] Okay, so you were in the police force, but clearly you didn’t completely move away from your piano work.
Joe Leaver: [00:13:01] Yeah, never did. It was strange how that worked out. I joined the police force and went to the academy for 9 months in Hobart, lived in. So, it’s a live in academy. So, didn’t do piano work for that time. But it’s probably the only time of the last 20 years that I didn’t actually do piano work, that 9 months. So, lived in an academy and it’s a bit intense. So, a lot of study and stuff. So, a lot of work placements. so, did that for 9 months. Then when I left, my old boss, Eric said, look, you’re working shift work, you’ve obviously got time during the day. I’m still stuck for people. Do you want to come and do some work here, sort of cash in hand sort of work? So, I went back and did that. So, that’s where it started the two worlds
Andrew Montesi: [00:13:50] Together.
Joe Leaver: [00:13:51] The two worlds, yeah, absolutely. They are two very distinct worlds.
Andrew Montesi: [00:13:55] How do you imagine that? I mean being a police officer would be so intense. Would it be fair to say that the piano work was a bit therapeutic?
Joe Leaver: [00:14:03] Yeah, they compliment each other in some strange ways. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of police officers that either have family businesses or a second line of work, or even a hobby just to kind of counteract that work. I guess in terms, we sort of talk about police work specifically, I don’t know how to put it, this is not sort of a chest beating thing. But I’m not someone that gets overly stressed with things. I’ve done things. So, that’s not part of my personality. So, it wasn’t sort of to counteract that. Part of it was money, like it was additional money for me. Once I had been in Hobart, in the Tasmania police there, me and my wife moved here together. So, we moved to South Australia. I actually didn’t know anyone. So, I actually didn’t have much to do during the day. So, I worked shift work at night, didn’t have much during the day. So, I sort of thought, I’ll do a bit of piano work again and sort of got into it over here. That’s when this business really started to kick off.
Andrew Montesi: [00:15:07] So, how did you get into it over here? Was it just putting a little ad in the classified and saying, hey, I’ll do a bit of servicing?
Joe Leaver: [00:15:12] Yeah, so we’re talking 2004. So, you’ve just got websites kicking off really. Probably maybe I couldn’t tell you, but maybe 40, 50 percent of businesses had a good website. So, it wasn’t mainstream. Facebook wasn’t around. Instagram wasn’t around. None of that was around. So, it started off where I targeted initially places that I knew had pianos. So, me and my wife would sit there in the lounge room. So, we typed out a letter to all the churches, schools, nursing homes, kindergartens, all the places we knew had pianos, and literally signed them, fold them up, put them in envelopes, and put stamps on them all, and handwrite addresses, and I went and posted them all out. So, that was one of the first things we did, a massive mail out. I reckon we sent maybe about 1,000 letters out.
Andrew Montesi: [00:16:05] All manually.
Joe Leaver: [00:16:06] All manually, yeah. So, one the old desktop, type the letter out, sign it. I’d sign every page as the owner of the business. Yeah, I don’t think we ever knew how to mail merge or anything like that. I didn’t have it all on a spreadsheet. So, handwrite every address.
Andrew Montesi: [00:16:26] I think that personal touch is something that’s probably lost in businesses. I actually know a few people who have taken to the handwritten style of letter because it’s so personal.
Joe Leaver: [00:16:37] It is, and it’s lost these days. One thing we actually do in our business. Like last year, everyone went, oh no, we’re not doing that again. But we actually handwrite a Christmas card to every customer. So, during the year, we would go through our diary at the end of the year. We have 5 workers there now. So, we actually go through and handwrite, you know it’s just something very simple on a Christmas card, dear Jenny, thanks for your business in 2017. The team at Mobile Piano Service. Put a card in it, put it in an envelope, handwrite the envelope. We usually have to block out a month in January for tuning work, because that gets us so much work. People actually phone up and say, I can’t believe it. I’ve got a handwritten envelope.
Andrew Montesi: [00:16:23] That’s amazing.
Joe Leaver: [00:16:24] So, we still do that to this day. Last year, we did about 800.
Andrew Montesi: [00:16:28] That’s a great little growth secret.
Joe Leaver: [00:16:31] Yeah, that is a part of the world that’s got lost I think in small businesses like that personal thing.
Andrew Montesi: [00:16:39] Okay, so the business started kicking off what? From out the boot of your car, is that right?
Joe Leaver: [00:16:45] Yeah, literally. So, when we arrived in Adelaide, sent out the letters. Got a bit of response from that. Started doing a little bit of advertising. In those days, it was in the old Trading Post, like the paper version of the Trading Post, which I think has kind of transformed obviously to Gumtree and eBay. But that then was a paper form of the Trading Post. So, few ads in there. We used to put some line ads in the advertiser. Yeah, so basically started just driving, very simple, driving around Adelaide fixing and tuning pianos with a whole car full of spare parts and tuning gear. So, that’s how it started. That sort of transgressed into little workshop at home. So, minor repairs at home. I started bringing some pianos back. So, I lined with a removalist because I didn’t have anyone to help me at the time. So, I lined with a removalist. Funny enough, I don’t know how I did now, but I used to actually go and get something myself with this trolley I made, this trolley that could wheel itself up into an old trailer that I bought. I don’t know how I didn’t injure myself. But I didn’t. But I started taking a few back. So, I built a shed out the back of the house we had. So, built a little makeshift workshop. Started doing some restoration work. Over a few years, that sort of led into selling them. So, I started buying, going and getting pianos to actually restore and sell. So, I had gone from, I guess I’ve spent 4 years there. But it went from tuning in people’s homes to doing larger repairs at home, taking pianos back to restoring them more work to selling them.
Andrew Montesi: [00:19:22] So, it’s a kind of Pfeiffer service type of model, and then there’s the whatever you can make off the restoration.
Joe Leaver: [00:19:30] Yeah.
Andrew Montesi: [00:19:31] With the restorations, what’s the gambit of profit? It’s just interesting.
Joe Leaver: [00:19:39] Yeah, so how we operate is it’s a very simple model, but it’s always worked for me, is that it’s just worked out of an hourly rate. So, we charge $85 per hour for our work. Obviously that’s increased overtime. It’s just whatever the job takes times that. Because restoration work can vary so much. One person can say, don’t care what it looks like, love all the marks in it, that’s the history. I want it functional and working. Some people just want the inside. Other people want the opposite. They say, don’t care if it doesn’t work, because we don’t really play it. I want it as a visual thing in my house. Other people want both. Some people are mixed. So, I find by doing an hourly rate, you then put it in their court. So, you can say to them, there’s 30 hours inside total. There’s 60 hours outside total, for a Mickey Mouse job or absolutely perfect, or you can do the outside for 30 hours. So, it gives the customer control over their own job rather than you just coming and going well, that’s $5,000, take it or leave it. They can play around with that, because the other part to that is you don’t lose as many jobs because people have control. So, they can come back to you and go, look, really want that outcome. I don’t have $5,000 to spend on this piano. We budgeted it to 2,500. Then I can say, all right, well what about if we don’t do this, we do that. So, we focus on that side of it.
Andrew Montesi: [00:21:05] It’s that flexibility.
Joe Leaver: [00:21:06] What’s more important to you?
Andrew Montesi: [00:21:07] Okay. So, you’ve now got a team. You’ve got a dog mascot, what’s been the keys to growth, do you think?
Joe Leaver: [00:21:16] Keys to growth. Keys to growth. Probably the last 4 years has been a really big learning curve for me because I’ve gone from, say 5 years, go back to 2012, it was me by myself. My brother actually works. It’s another whole long story. I won’t go into it. But my brother actually works at the piano shop I used to work at now in Hobart. So, he used to fly over. I’d fly him over and he’d spend 3 weeks here, smash out 3 huge weeks. Then he would go back. But essentially it was just me, to now, there’s actually 6 of us now, including me. So, been a big learning curve. Probably the most important things I’ve learnt would be being very transparent in your business with your customers, being bluntly honest even if it’s going to lose your job. You almost, and I try to instil this in the others that it doesn’t matter if you lose a job, but you’re bluntly honest with a customer, if you can or can’t do it, rather than wing it, try to wing it or learn as you go when you’re on the job. Sorry to cut you off. But that goes back to what we were saying before about it being so important to people because you’re working on something, a lot of the time, it’s family element. You can’t stuff it up. You don’t have that. That’s not an option.
Andrew Montesi: [00:21:37] That’s not an option error.
Joe Leaver: [00:21:38] No.
Andrew Montesi: [00:21:39] Yeah, because a lot of people in business will kind of say yes to everything, and then go….
Joe Leaver: [00:21:43] How do I do it?
Andrew Montesi: [00:21:44] I’m going to make it up as I go along.
Joe Leaver: [00:21:46] Sometimes that’s a key to growth. Sometimes I can see that in some models. Parts of the business, I’ll do that. I can’t think of a specific example, but if it’s a job that I think I will essentially lose money on it by doing it properly, but it’s good for the overall growth of the business, I’ll do it. Like I’ll give you an example, just recently because we’ve gone into furniture restoration as well, we’ve sort of built up a reasonable name in Adelaide now. I’ve just got 3 important jobs just recently. One for Burnside Council which was their ballroom chairs and table, another one for the State Library which is some of their furniture as you walk in. We’re actually going to do the leatherwork for Parliament House.
Andrew Montesi: [00:23:38] Wow.
Joe Leaver: [00:23:39] So, those jobs, I look at them. Because we’re not set up to do some of that work, I’m going to have to set us up to do it, to do it properly. I can do it properly, but I’ve got to invest money to do it. So, that specific job is going to lose my money. If you look at that one job that’s going to lose money, but it’s not over. You’ve got to look at the big picture.
Andrew Montesi: [00:24:06] You’re creating another stream.
Joe Leaver: [00:24:07] Creating another stream. Once you’ve done work for Parliament House, Town Hall Councils, private people that want a good result, it just builds credibility, doesn’t it?
Andrew Montesi: [00:24:18] Credibility, prestige.
Joe Leaver: [00:24:19] Yeah, so sometimes that’s part of the model. Yeah, I’ve sort of gone off. I’ve forgotten where it started.
Andrew Montesi: [00:24:29] No, it’s good. You’ve completely answered the question. What have been the hardest bits on the journey? I mean you’ve now parked up the policing career?
Joe Leaver: [00:24:41] Yeah.
Andrew Montesi: [00:24:42] This is your thing. Has that been a big part, I guess the jump?
Joe Leaver: [00:24:48] Biggest part of the whole journey would be sheer man hours. For a while there, my wife still thinks I’m a bit insane with my work hours. But I was really ridiculous for a while. I would literally work. I would be up in the morning at 7 a.m. I would work all day on piano work. That would be out, back to the shop. If I’m not in the shop, then workshop at home. I’d be in and out of a house, tuning pianos in people’s houses. I’d get to 5 o’clock, get home. This is pre-kids. Get home, have dinner. Get into police uniform, go to work at 6 o’clock to 2 in the morning. Then get up the next day. I was running on 4 to 5 hours of sleep for a long time.
Andrew Montesi: [00:25:27] Is that sustainable?
Joe Leaver: [00:25:28] Not sustainable, no. That’s where growth comes in. You’ve got to get people to delegate to. Once you start doing, once you start putting in so many hours, your quality of work starts to deteriorate. So, then you have to employ people to then do that work. So, it’s very simple. Don’t have to tell people that there, a business model of delegation. But the biggest challenge over the years for me has been, because it’s a labour industry, literally not having enough hours in the day to do it. We do sell pianos now. But they are restored pianos, so they even take time. We’re not in the business of in a retail shop, we sell all the stuff, we order another container and sell more. You sell a piano, you replace it.
Andrew Montesi: [00:26:21] So, what’s the vision? How are you going to take the business to an even greater level?
Joe Leaver: [00:26:27] Yeah, so I guess part of any business growth wise for me, what’s important is having a little bit of arrogance and a little bit of guts, and taking chances. So, that’s one of the things I think. It sort of ties in with policing as well as I was saying before because police career is all about sometimes there’s a big focus on leadership. That translates into business because as a business owner, the but’s stop with you, like you are it. You’re the head of the snake. So, I think if you don’t take risks and take chances…
Andrew Montesi: [00:27:17] Be a bit bullish.
Joe Leaver: [00:27:18] Be a little bit arrogant, not stupid. Yeah, that’s a good word, be a bit bullish, it instils confidence in everyone else, because everybody in our business has got different personalities. Some people are more laid back. Other people like taking chances. But it shows them that I’m willing to drag it along and try and get it somewhere. Going back to your question about where is it going to, last year, because of the Hobart Link and now we’re in Adelaide, or we’ve always been in Adelaide. But you know we sort of went into that before the Hobart linked to it. Melbourne’s been in between. So, we’ve actually always done work in Melbourne. People have called us up and said, oh, that’s been quite a personal thing. So, people said, oh you tuned the piano for my auntie. I’m Lee. We live in Melbourne. Do you ever come to Melbourne? I said, yeah, we do. We fly in and do a bit of work. So, Melbourne has always been a part of what we do. But to be honest, I got sick of explaining to everyone there what we do. So, last year, I said to the other guy. This is an example of what you just mentioned. I said to the other guy, tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to create a website. I’m going to chuck a website in Melbourne and start that going. The initial model was we were going to go over for one week 4 times a year. Now we go over fortnightly.
Andrew Montesi: [00:28:47] Wow.
Joe Leaver: [00:28:48] Both of us for 2, 3 days and just do a whole lot of work. So, that’s one model, interstate expansion. That’s going to tie into maybe franchising and stuff in the future. Again, that’s another massive learning curve for me. We talk about steps. We’ve gone from me, not having a business, being in the police force to having a home based business, to having an outside a home business, to having staff, now interstate. So, it’s no different to most stories. But it’s definitely on a growth.
Andrew Montesi: [00:29:22] A personal growth is awesome as well I would imagine.
Joe Leaver: [00:29:25] Personal growth as well. Yeah, I guess things have changed for me over the years, like they do with everybody. But yeah, personal growth.
Andrew Montesi: [00:29:41] Final question, what’s been the proudest moment on the journey so far?
Joe Leaver: [00:29:45] Proudest moment? Probably proving to myself and others that we could actually make a go of this business because over the years, people always said it, and they still say to me now, pianos is such a small market, how did you get to where you are from out of such a small industry? I think part of that is, I was probably lucky in that that growth came from we’ve said, being a bit bullish, a bit arrogant, a bit strong in decision making. Another large part of that, and I saw this about 10 years ago, people didn’t quite believe me at the time, but I sort of started to see a bit of a social change. I know this is a whole other conversation. I won’t go into it. But sort of with the whole hipster culture. You go back 20 years ago, like you go to a cafe and it was all brand new furniture. But whereas now retro cafes and older furniture, well that’s very popular and that whole hipster movement. I sort of started to see that because I started to see younger people wanting to fix pianos and tune older pianos. Nobody believed me. But I knew it but I couldn’t articulate it at the time. I couldn’t work out what my business model was because I didn’t know. But I sort of just saw it being that, and I followed.
Andrew Montesi: [00:31:13] Culture shift.
Joe Leaver: [00:31:14] Culture shift, social shift. Yeah, I started to see that. I saw a vision in that. I guess going back to your question about what’s been the most, what was it? Proudest moment, most fulfilling is actually having the guts to follow that, because basically everyone said, that won’t work. No one wants old pianos, because at the time, a bit like any industry, the vintage industry now is enormous. Cafes, furniture, cars, cars have gone through the roof. I saw that at the start. I thought, that could benefit our business, because we deal with vintage stuff. That’s all we deal with. No one believed me at the time. Everyone said, nah, it’s not going to work. It’s a stupid model. Don’t invest money in it. But it has worked. I mean it’s still got a ways to go. But it’s where I want it to be now. So, that’s probably my biggest thing.
Andrew Montesi: [00:32:16] Awesome. Well, Joe, thanks for coming onto this show and sharing what is a truly fascinating story and industry.
Joe Leaver: [00:32:24] Sorry.
Andrew Montesi: [00:32:26] No, look I think it’s fascinating. A big part of this podcast will be allowing business owners to openly share this story, the highs, lows and otherwise. So, thanks so much.
Joe Leaver: [00:32:38] Yeah, I think it’s like a very good thing you’re doing. Like every business has got their own story. It’s good to hear them. So, what you’re doing is fantastic.
Andrew Montesi: [00:32:43] Thanks, mate. Cheers.
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This podcast is brought to you by KMT Partners. KMT is a leading accounting and wealth management advisory firm in South Australia, assisting you to emerge, renew, grow and build resilience in business, themes which are central to this podcast series. For more information visit KMTpartners.com.au
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This podcast is hosted and produced by Andrew Montesi from Apiro Consulting apiroconsulting.com