February 11, 2019

Jim Hennessey | Owner, The Music People

Jim Hennessey

At 83 years old, Jim Hennessey is still in the office every day at The Music People, the Berlin-based music accessory and professional audio equipment company he started four decades ago.

But before he was running his own company, he was a draftsman for helicopters at Kaman Aircraft. As luck would have it, the company's owner, Charlie Kaman, also owned Ovation Guitars.

After a few years working days as a logistical engineer at Kaman and nights attending art school, Hennessey began working at Ovation full time, doing artwork, advertising and artist relations.

Working with artists from Kat Stevens to Emmylou Harris, Hennessey learned about their audio needs, which informed him in designing products when he founded The Music People in 1979.

As the company -- which also also owns and manufactures the On-Stage brand of musical accessories -- celebrates its 40th anniversary, Hennessey said the Connecticut music scene's strength is in its diversity of venues — from churches to casinos.

The music industry and technology that artists use seem to be always changing. How do you make sure your business and products remain relevant?

It is always changing, but so is the world — and that can be bad or good. In 2008, the recession hurt the country, but our company was still on a growth path.

We did this by making sure we are always meeting the needs of the customers. And we do this by making sure that our accessories and products can be purchased by musicians in any economic climate.

What has been the proudest moment of your career?

My proudest moment is that I started a company and ran it for 40 years successfully with only a high school education. All of my friends were going to college, so I set a goal that I had four years to get up to the same level that they were at when they came out.

My second proudest moment is when my children, Sharon and John Hennessey, wanted to join the business. I took my daughter to California to a trade show and when we got back she signed up. My son, John, worked on college breaks at the company and when he graduated he came on full time.

Do different types of music require different kinds of audio equipment for optimal sound?

Sure, different venues and different spaces require different kinds of sound systems. For example, a night club would have a different setup than a small- or mid-sized church.

In addition to manufacturing innovative musical accessories, we also have a strong pro-audio distribution branch, TMP-Pro, which today distributes over 200 audio brands.

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