Some sources, being cautiously optimistic, predict an economic turnaround just around the corner, in September. Toes and fingers being crossed all around. It may or may not happen. It may or may not be on a massive scale. But while some may be chewing on life’s gristle, others are laughing and smiling and dancing and singing. And some are drumming – loudly.
We’re taking note that in the far corners of Maine they’re making 85,000 drumsticks a day from Appalachian hickory wood. And that’s a wake-up call to anyone who remotely believed American ingenuity to be running out of steam. Visit a music store near you and you’ll see them, stacked top to bottom, categorized according to weight and pitch.
Behind the music is 77 year old, Vic Firth who pretty much backed into the drumstick business. A drummer with no less than the Boston Symphony, he was unhappy with his commercially made drumsticks. So he went to his basement and made some. Then he made more. Then other people wanted them. Eventually a factory was built. And so it went for five decades until now. He claims 62 percent of the market share.
And for those who say stick to the thing you know and only the thing you know there’s more. Vic Firth’s company makes pepper mills and rolling pins. Say what? Yes, it made us look up too. Food network celebrity Mario Batali commissions his signature orange pepper mills from the drumstick maker. But even the innovative Firth was skeptical about the market for orange pepper mills. Now it’s their best seller.
We love when business surprises even the business owners. But most of all, we love what Firth had to say in a recent CBS interview. “The key word for me is persistence,” he said. “Whatever you set out to do, you have to have a magnum passion for it, and you’ve got to work beyond what you ever dreamed you’re gonna work to succeed at the level that you want to succeed at.” That and some optimism – take it away Eric Idle – “Always look on the bright side of life.”