- Written by Matt Parish
- Published: 12 June 2013
“The word or culture of ‘service’ in today’s world is rapidly disappearing,” he says. “We believe that great service is still the biggest need of our customers. Whether aimed at musicians, educators, retailers, repair technicians, or parents, we strive to over-deliver on service in all that we do.”
Henry joined Antigua Winds, based in San Antonio, Texas, about two years ago. Since then, the long-respected company has shifted to a new focus on manufacturing and service that has many buyers excited. The keys to this approach are in a reliable brand, great instruments, and an attention to the voice of the customer.
“When we looked at what our annual U.S. and global sales were two years ago, it was obvious how much opportunity was still out in front of us,” says Henry. “Our instruments have definitely morphed over the past seven or eight years driven by the feedback we’ve received.”
Antigua was founded in 1991 by an educator named Fred Hoey, who teamed with a growing and progressive manufacturer in Asia to start importing affordable, quality instruments for budding students. Hoey passed away in 1994, but the company has maintained its vision, centered on Antigua’s ownership of its factories. This ownership, Henry says, “is critical in Antigua’s product development, quality, and continuous improvement practices.”
As a result of the organization’s latest efforts, Henry says that Antigua’s dealer base has nearly doubled over the last two
years, with a significant growth in sales following that. The company’s student rental line – Antigua Vosi – has gained the most traction among customers, though its line of professional saxophones has also made major strides.
“We know we can always improve,” says Henry. “We continue to work with Peter Ponzol, who has brought great knowledge and experience in the design of the Antigua ProOne line of saxophones. We are teamed up with Morrie Backun, who has brought Antigua into a new realm of clarinets, with our Antigua Backun wood clarinet bodies being turned and milled in the Backun facility in Vancouver. We have prototype instruments out with multiple dealers, designers, and educators, so that we have confidence when we launch the finished products.”
They also have a comprehensive network of professional artists and endorsers on the road with these instruments on tours with artists like Prince and Lionel Ritchie. It’s through artists like these that Antigua hears all about issues with instruments’ road-worthiness, case design, intonation, and projection. They’ll often also get feedback about reliability and musical versatility, as well as age-appropriateness of each instrument’s design.
But it is perhaps Antigua’s service – a piece of the business that continues before, during, and after all sales – on which the company really prides itself.
“We are relying on the tradition that makes this band industry great - the tradition of honesty in our relationships,” says Henry. “The music industry is not like a lot of other industries. A lot of people try to change it, but I strongly believe this industry enjoys its roots.”
Gone are the days when a company simply needed to build a distinguished instrument that sounded great and met musical expectations, Henry says.
Everyone’s making great instruments these days. “Quality is now looked at as a barrier to entry in this market,” he says.
“Without quality instruments, you aren’t even an option. We don’t have the most time-tested, well-known brand in the industry. We understand that, too. What we do have is an appreciation and passion for the industry, for the music. We have fun. We care. We listen. We believe that the relationships in this industry still take priority over the balance sheet.”
The company already has several new products in the pipeline that everyone there is reportedly very excited about, with a focus placed (as always) on customer feedback.