By establishing Lonely Instruments for Needy Kids (LINKS) and many other community endeavors, Bill Harvey—president and CEO of Buddy Roger’s Music—has been seen as a pillar of society in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, and recently recognized nationally by the Synchrony Pillars Project, sponsored by financial services company Synchrony and Inc. Magazine.
The new Pillars award program celebrates small business leaders who shape their local communities. Buddy Roger’s is the only music dealer and one of only 10 businesses across the country to be recognized. Synchrony gave the 10 recipients $10,000 grants and invited them to New York for a summit that included business strategy sessions.
Harvey started as a salesperson for Buddy Roger’s in 1974 and worked his way up to become the sole owner of the music retailer, which focuses on school music programs. LINKS started about 25 years ago after teachers continuously mentioned that some families couldn’t afford instruments. Harvey says that he despised the idea of children walking away from music programs simply because their families couldn’t pay for new or even used instruments. To address the problem, Buddy Roger’s partnered with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music CCMpower board. Through LINKS, Buddy Roger’s repairs donated instruments for free and distributes them to children in the Cincinnati area when teachers submit applications.
“When you donate [an instrument], the kids are going to blow life into it and start sharing those memories with that instrument,” Harvey says.
The $10,000 grant will go toward repair costs and supplying additional instruments to the LINKS program, Harvey says.
The community influence of Buddy Roger’s doesn’t end with LINKS. The small music store provides complimentary supplies to teachers on tight budgets, sponsors band camps, and plans clinics like the upcoming Sax Day on April 4, 2020, when students can learn from professional saxophonists from around the country.
Buddy Roger’s also expanded its reach beyond the classroom walls, sponsoring Make Music Cincinnati and working with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to set up booths in local parks for children to see, touch, and play all sorts of instruments, says Hayley Voorhees, Buddy Roger’s marketing director.
“I believe we are a leader in supporting music education here in Cincinnati,” says Voorhees, who nominated the business for the Synchrony Pillars Project. “We know the benefits of band—it creates a well-rounded student. It’s our responsibility to help give that back.”