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Updated: April 6, 2020 / 2020 Women in Business Awards

Hennessey leads family business The Music People through ‘significant growth’

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Sharon Hennessey Q&A
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When Sharon Hennessey, co-president and co-owner of Berlin-based The Music People, was a child, she would go to work with her father on weekends at Ovation Guitars in New Hartford. While there, she and her younger brother John acted like they ran the company.

“We had complete roam of the factory,” Hennessey said. “Since I was older, I was the ‘boss’ and asked my brother for reports.”

Hennessey, who was around 7 years old at the time, would call her brother on the phone from the sales department and say, “ ‘I asked you to get me that report an hour ago.’ Then, I hung up on him.”

Hennessey said the dynamic hasn’t much changed.

“It’s what we do today,” said Hennessey, who now runs The Music People, which her father Jim founded in 1979, with her brother.

She focuses on sales, while John is involved in operations.

“We manage day to day the business together,” Hennessey said.

Hennessey worked part time at The Music People, which is an importer of musical-instrument accessories and a national distributor of Pro Audio Brands, while in high school and college. She went to college, earning a degree in special education because she wanted to carve her own path.

But when she went to a National Association of Music Merchants trade show in California with her father in the late 1980s, she was hooked on the passion and creativity in the industry.

“I saw rock stars and that was enough to say ‘I’m joining the company,’ ” she said.

She then joined The Music People’s sales department full time in 1989.

“If you believe in the product you’re selling and you align that with a relationship with the customer, that’s when magic happens,” Hennessey said. “People want to work with people who they like and trust.”

She and her brother took over officially from her father a few years ago, but unofficially were running the business for more than a decade. Hennessey’s father, now in his 80s, comes to work every day, although he’s no longer involved in the day-to-day operations, Hennessey said.

She credits their success to hard work and a dynamic to “take on things we know nothing about.”

One of her greatest accomplishments has been the “seamless transition” of the business from her father. “During this transition, we continued to experience significant growth with minimal growing pains,” she said.

Hennessey and her brother helped the company through difficult economic times between 2008 to 2012, when they grew it by 113 percent, Hennessey said.

During her tenure, she said she has not only had a role in developing the sales department but the company as a whole.

“We’ve grown from 17 employees to 84 worldwide today as well as started a division overseas that enhances our abilities and continues to establish relationships with the most strategic corporations in our industry,” Hennessey said.

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April 6, 2020

A HUGE congratulations to Sharon! The Town of Berlin is proud to call her and The Music People a Berlin business! Blessings and good health to you, your family and all of the readers of the HBJ!

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