BBC News – Trade secrets of oldest family firm in US
Nearly 400 years ago, in 1623, Avedis Zildjian founded a cymbal-manufacturing company in Istanbul.
Now run by 14th generation family member Craigie Zildjian, along with her sister Debbie, the company has outlasted empires, survived a move overseas to the US, and thrived during the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and two World Wars.
Today, the company controls 65% of the world’s cymbal market, and took in more than $50m in revenues last year.
But for the Zildjians, it’s more than just a business.
Walking through the halls of the Zildjian factory in Norwell, Massachusetts, is like getting a front row seat to music history.The hallways are lined with photos of famous drummers such as Ringo Starr and Roy Haynes. Jazz drummer Buddy Rich‘s drum kit is preserved in full.
Drummers of all stripes often arrive to test the Zildjians’ latest cymbals – there’s even a special pressurised room that can re-create the acoustics of concert venues around the country.
Yet musicians are a fickle bunch, and the music industry is constantly in flux.So what are the Zildjians’ secrets to staying in business for nearly four centuries?
First off, there’s the literal secret – the special alloy of copper, tin, and silver that gives the Zildjian cymbals their world-renowned sound.
It’s a proprietary mix that Avedis Zildjian brought over with him from Turkey and handed down from generation to generation of Zildjians – and only to Zildjians.
At the Norwell factory, there’s a special room that only a few people have access to, where the alloy is mixed by a trusted handful – even the company’s head of research and development doesn’t know what goes into the mix.
Craigie and Debbie weren’t trusted with the secret until they were in their mid-30s and deemed sufficiently committed to the company – and they, too, have decided to keep the secret from their daughters for a few more years.
Strange Random Drummer Quote:
Every drummer that had a name, had a name because of his individual playing. He didn’t sound like anybody else, So everybody that I ever listened to, in some form, influenced my taste. – Buddy Rich
- Zildjian: Family Business for 14 Generations (neatorama.com)
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- KAMELOT – Zildjian In The Studio With Drummer Casey Grillo; Video Online (bravewords.com)
- Demystifying Intellectual Property: Understanding Trademarks & Trade Secrets (blogs.lawyers.com)
- What gear in my studio would you use to record drums? (gearslutz.com)