Steinway’s New Owners See Expanded Market Potential

Even though the classical music economic climate might look chilly to some observers, it seems that forecast doesn’t extend to the luxury piano market where a private equity firm, Kohlberg & Company, recently purchased Steinway & Sons for $438 million.

up up awayAlthough there was some reasonable trepidation from musicians and classical music presenters over the announcement, it appears that the new owners are actually looking to expand production and maintain existing quality standards.

An article by Corinne Ramey in the 7/11/2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal examines the sale in closer detail and includes a bit of reference content from me about the turnaround time for realizing gains in expanding the master piano maker workforce and pushing into Eastern European and Asian markets.

In short, Steinway’s new owners have a bit of time before realizing the fruits of investing in expanded production so concerns over the purchase being designed to generate a quick profit by chopping the company up or using the brand name to begin selling lower quality instruments is likely unfounded.

The only sale related wrinkle so far is a lawsuit filed by one Steinway stockholder who alleges the company gave Kohlberg & Company a sweetheart deal and should have settled for a higher price per share.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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1 thought on “Steinway’s New Owners See Expanded Market Potential”

  1. It’s great to hear that the new investors are so interested in growing Steinway. When I first read about the acquisition, I thought about the craftspeople working all those years to make these amazing instruments/machines.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend checking out this documentary on Netflix:

    It’s called Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037. It follows the year-long process of creating a piano from lumber The people that work there seem to be dedicated and proud (and sometimes a bit eccentric, but who am I to judge?).

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