As Ken Snowden and D.L. Bullock have pointed out, the pipe organ
business continues to be vibrant and very much alive. As an economist
and organist, I have been privileged over the past few years to prepare
an annual statistical report on the economic state of the pipe organ
industry for the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America (APOBA) and
the American Institute of Organbuilders (AIO). From that perspective,
I can attest to the strength of the industry.
APOBA consists of 34 firms involved in building pipe organs and
component parts for them. The AIO has members from over 240 different
pipe organ firms: some large, like the members of APOBA, and some small
local pipe organ service companies.
Each year the industry produces upwards of 100 new pipe organs and
an equal number of major rebuilds. In addition there are many major
additions and upgrades to existing pipe organs. Many of the pipe organ
builders have backlogs that extend out over three years or more.
The passing of the Austin Organ Company is a sad event; they built many
fine instruments during their existence and they will be missed. The
unfortunate reality is that in just about any industry there is some
inevitable "coming and going" of new firms entering and old firms
disappearing. Thus it is with the pipe organ industry. Yet, the
spirit of the industry is very much alive and scores of new instruments
are delighting organists, congregations, and audiences each year.