If you have been following Noble & Cooley on social media lately, you have probably noticed that there has been an uptick of activity. There is a reason for this, and it is just the beginning. We are excited to announce that we have entered into a strategic business partnership with John Keane. John is a long time Noble & Cooley player and a successful business person. He approached us recently to discuss his passion for the brand as well as ideas he had for expanding the Noble & Cooley platform and getting more people to play our drums. John is highly enthusiastic and brings a great deal of business acumen to our company. Since he approaches our business both as a fan and as a creative businessman who has ideas for growth, we thought our long time loyal players would like to hear some of his stories and ideas. We also thought that those who recently signed up for the newsletter and may not know much about Noble & Cooley would enjoy learning about him, his experience with our drums and some of the things he would like to do. John is very energetic which comes across when you hear him discuss all things drumming related. He has said repeatedly that Noble and Cooley is not about him but about us and the fans but we want our extended family to know about him and why we chose to work with him. We put some questions to John which we hope will give you a sense of who he is, who we are, and where we are heading.
N&C Why do you want to work with Noble & Cooley?
I have a number of specific reasons but, to put it simply, I think Noble & Cooley makes the best drums in the world and more people need to hear them. I believe I can take my business background, add some additional resources, both financial and otherwise, combine them with my passion for the drums and grow the business. I also want to develop new products which will provide similar profound experiences for other musicians that I have had with my drums.
N&C What do you bring to the business that you think will help the company grow?
I guess what I bring is that I primarily approach this as a long time user, drum junkie and fan but I also have a lot of ideas and a willingness to take risks. If you combine that with a fair amount of sales and marketing experience, financial capabilities, access to resources and colleagues with formidable skill sets who are excited to help, I am pretty confident we will be successful with whatever we choose to do. And oh, by the way, the drums are amazing, the company made the drums for the Civil War and spearheaded the custom drum shop movement and has an impeccable reputation.
N&C Could you describe your business background?
Sure. I have spent most of my career working with critical care medical products, first as a salesperson in the OR and later in executive capacities launching new products into the marketplace or turning around struggling divisions, particularly in the areas of stereotactic neurosurgery, anesthesia and critical care and radiation therapy.
N&C That’s a long way from custom drums.
From a product perspective it certainly is, but the fundamental aspects of business are the same for everyone: Make a good product, manufacture it well, price it so that you can stay in business but your demographic can afford it, provide excellent customer service, treat your customers with respect and appreciation, and be flexible. I don’t know why people spend years getting Harvard MBAs and still don’t get the concept but that’s what business is.
N&C You make it sound so simple.
It is simple. It isn’t easy but it’s simple, at least to me. Maybe this sounds kind of arrogant, but I don’t think it is complicated. Business has always been pretty easy for me. It takes hard work and strategy but it isn’t that intellectually difficult like, say fusion at room temperature or 11 over 5 in 9 / 4 (Dave Weckl, if you are reading this, please don’t write back that it is easy). The drums are REALLY hard. Everyone reading this knows what it takes to be a good drummer. No need to explain that. Making drums of the quality Noble & Cooley makes is really hard. No need to explain that one either. But the business aspect of it all I find pretty easy.
N&C Why do you think that is?
I think it is primarily due to the fact that my dad owned his own medical business and my entire childhood was an involuntary MBA course. Seriously. He would take me to one of my hockey games (another passion), stop at Mass General, give me the state of the business and ask me how I would approach the customer. I would be like, “Uh dad, I’m 10”. Instead, I would invariably provide the wrong answer and get a lecture on what the proper approach was while sweating in my hockey gear. So I think I was taught business at a very young age just like Jason Bonham was taught the drums at a very young age and therefore it was natural. In any case, once my band broke up there was a huge void in my life and I started taking executive level jobs where I had to essentially run the business. I have worked with Ivy League MBAs and PhDs in billion dollar companies and Investment Bankers in tiny startups who don’t have a clue how to run businesses. I realized over time that I could always figure out what to do fairly quickly and easily.
So, where I am at now is that, perhaps this is what I was meant to do. I was thinking about this the other day. Of all the things I have loved in my life, the only thing that has been with me for my entire life is the drums. I love the drums, love Noble & Cooley drums in particular and I can take my personal skill set and put it to work in an area that is really important to me. It will be fun for me, N&C will benefit, the drum community will benefit, and the fans will benefit.