A Chat with Dan, the QRS Man
By Karl Ellison
|Hello All -|
I had aconversation with Dan Wilke, QRS's Auction Coordinator. This was preciptated by a fax that I submitted to enter my bids for the QRS #44 roll auction last weekend. In the fax, I made some comments to a recent letter I received from Dan, wherein Dan stated that QRS indeed did not have all of their masters to all of their works (notably for 'The Kings Horses', which I specifically inquired as to it's status). I asked him why this was so, and also why QRS did not have an internet address. Dan called me at work this last Thursday!
It seems that when Max Kortlander died in 1961, the Kortlander family (who owned QRS) made a business decision to rent a dumpster, and what ever was not being used (or was seen as being usable in the near future) was trashed. It was an unfurtunate 'business decision' at the time to house-clean.
Dan also made some comments on the upcoming increase in new roll prices. He sed he almost dropped when he heard of it himself! It seems that in 1995, the supplier of QRS's paper has raised the price of paper 60%. Either there are no other suitable suppliers, or someone's got a brother-in-law in the paper business (*just* a joke, Mr. Dolan!).
Dan also commented that Rudy Martin is hard a work making rolls for "Poccahontis" (sp?). He agreed that the new music that is generated today does not transcribe well to the piano ... that's why you will see more re-issues in the catalog these days. Dan did reccomend some rolls that he things are fabulous and will tear your piano apart (I think that means they're neat ... The "Alladin" roll, and the "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer" roll. Anyway, it does not pay QRS to re-issue a roll unless they can sell at least 100. Sales are hopping at QRD ... he commented that it was like Christmas there. They pulled a few production workers off the line to help pick orders. The last mailing they did (announcing the rate increase) has predictably increased sales. Another concern is that Rudy Martin is no springt chicken, but, neither has he made any noises yet about retiring. I asked Dan if there were plans to schlep in another arranger (plan in prosperity ...), but non are in the works.
Dan gave me some frightening statistic: In 1980, QRS sold (almost) 1,000,000 new rolls ... in 1994, they sold a little over 90,000. In 1980, 10,000 new (paper) player pianos were sold in this country ... in 1994, 275 were sold. This of course does not include rebuilds.
I commented to Dan that QRS really needs to get on the internet. He sed that the president, Rich Dolan was a computer weenie and played with these things, but as far as Dan went, it it didn't have a bellow or a crank, he didn't want to know about it. Too bad. I thought that PIANOMATION and PIANORECORDER customers would be somewhat computer literate, and it would only open communications.
My 40 minutes talk with Dan was very enjoyable. Dan is an affable man that will answer any questions you have. He asked me to give him a call before I come up to visit QRS (and the Shea's Buffalo Theater!), and he'd give me a personal tour if possible. He said that when he does a tour, he goes all out, e.g. they have a room of players - He plays them *all* for his tours, where the 'other' guides may play one if there's time. He's owned a player since he was 13. He's also a band organ nut, so I faxed him the ad from the AMICA bulletin on the said upcoming event.
If anyone want's to ask questions or make comments, he's at their auction department (716/885-0250 - don't bother trying the 800# .. they make you pay to talk to him), and has the time and the desire to increase your long distance phone bill; but it's worth it!
(Message sent Sun 16 Jul 1995, 16:23:33 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)