Chesbro Music

Helping a Music Wholesaler in the New Economy


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Chesbro is a 100-year-old family-owned regional music wholesaler serving independent retail music stores. The company sells a range of musical instruments and published sheet music.

Company Industry

Music Wholesale and Distribution


Idaho Falls, ID

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Business Situation

Revenue and profitability were flat for several years, but the Great Recession’s impact on discretionary music playing and education exacerbated year-over-year declines from 2008 to the first half of 2009. Underlying the recessionary pressures were numerous other factors contributing to the business’ challenges:

  • A changing music industry and forms of media consumption affecting small, independent wholesalers and their retailer customers
  • Retail consolidation over the years, including:
    • Big box stores that offer inexpensive musical products — general merchandise stores like Wal-Mart, consumer electronics stores like Best Buy and music retail chains
  • Emergence of e-commerce and e-business
    • Easier for consumers and independent retailers to price shop close to wholesale
    • Technology reducing the role of the traditional wholesale distributor
  • Closely held ownership and long-term management had turned the company inward:
    • Leadership lost connection with customers
    • It was difficult to innovate and attract talent to the company
    • Product development and buying stagnated
    • Financial, sales and management decision-making tools and processes were dated, limited or non-existent


OneAccord Solution

  • Get back in touch with customers
    • Gather insights into their affinity for the company’s services
    • Build a process to manage accounts more effectively to meet demand
  • Evaluate strategic directions for:
    • Mitigating immediate business declines
    • Identifying key areas of company strength and growth potential (products and customer segments)
  • Provide strategic and program recommendations for internet Internet-based business development
    • Social media marketing, e-commerce, etc.
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Engagement Highlights

Involvement began in the summer of 2007 and continued through 2009. It consisted of three stages:

  1. Initial customer insights, value proposition and key recommendations assessment
    • Spoke with key customers and suppliers about the company
    • Discerned key needs, opportunities and strong affinity for the company’s brand heritage and its commitment to service
    • Stakeholders expressed a strong willingness to increase business with the company
  2. OneAccord provided an interim sales and marketing leadership role
  3. A team of OneAccord principals engaged to examine operations — products, finance and e-commerce — to reveal opportunities and mitigation strategies:
    • Sales force management
      • Account management programs with key customers
      • Sales training
      • Compensation planning
      • Sales and marketing reorganization
      • Sales processes and tracking tools
    • Business and leadership strategy
      • Complete review of product mix, sales and profitability to provide accountability and information
      • Decision-making support tools for buying
      • Sales metrics for organization
      • Defining and organizing leadership roles and assignments
      • Developed and executed strategies for bottom line and top line revenue growth
        • Sales team focused on top 100 accounts, the development of a value proposition and key solutions for pricing, terms and product mix
    • Marketing
      • Strategic marketing and tactical program recommendations
      • Analysis of web opportunity, needs evaluation
    • Recommended e-commerce/social media provider partner for pilot program in Q1 2010


  • By Q2 and Q3 of 2009 as programs took hold, the severe declines the company experienced through 2008 were significantly reduced
  • A new business strategy was identified with various recommendations for future implementation
  • Company began an online marketing initiative after years of delay
  • Perhaps most importantly, the CEO determined that the transition OneAccord affected to new management responsibilities vis a vis OneAccord’s interim and project leadership helped the company weather this difficult period.

“OneAccord provided an interim VP sales and marketing talent who provided insight and experience that was critical to the success of the above projects. One of the greatest benefits in working with OneAccord is the variety of expertise from OneAccord principals … and their extended network of relationships … In a business and technology environment that changes rapidly, [the availability of OneAccord executives and resources] helped our small company to have access to critical resources.” —Chesbro Music CEO

When clients engage a OneAccord principal in an interim or project role, the client benefits from a collaborative team of operating executives focused on revenue solutions.