The pace of innovation in the music products industry never slows, and that means manufacturers must continue to top themselves and “wow” both retailers and the end customers who’ll be using all those cool new instruments and gadgets. Very few companies over the past few years have been able to match Casio for sheer “wow factor”; after all, the company’s unveiled a broad range of new products, hosted artist-studded evening events and launch parties, and grabbed attendee attention at everything from the NAMM show in Anaheim to DJ Expo in Atlantic City. For this month’s Five Minutes With, we host Stephen Schmidt, Vice President of Casio’s electronic musical instruments division, for a detailed discussion.
The Music & Sound Retailer: Touch on the highlights of your own story as it pertains to the music products industry. Tell us about the path you’ve traveled on the way to joining Casio.
Stephen Schmidt: Much of my background does not directly pertain to the music products industry, but there are many parallel experiences in other industries that have prepared me. First, I have learned from the ground up. Fresh out of college, I started out picking orders in a warehouse and, then, moved to running the warehouse. That led to managing the overall operations of a distribution company, which led first to purchasing, then marketing and, finally, sales management. All of this has prepared me to lead the Casio musical instrument division, giving me a vast knowledge of most aspects of business. Knowledge that enables me to make most of my daily decisions. In addition, for each of the companies that I worked for, there was a direct parallel to the independent music retailer. When I worked in the watch business, there were independent jewelers; in the photo business, there were independent photo specialty dealers; and in the consumer electronics business, there were independent electronics retailers. Although different industries, they all share many of the same characteristics, and this experience is helpful to understand the challenges and complexities of the independent music retailer.
The Retailer: What are your responsibilities as VP of Casio’s electronic musical instruments division? What’s the best part of coming to work each day?