The Early Days
Anthony (T.J.) Getzen worked for the York Band Instrument Co. in Grand Rapids, MI. (approx 1913 to 1919). He then moved to Elkhorn, WI and went to work for Holton. He was a foreman from 1920 to 1930 and then the plant superintendent from 1930 to 1939.
T.J. Getzen leaves the Holton Co. after ten years as plant superintendent to start his own business. The Getzen Co., Inc. is born in a converted dairy barn behind the Getzen family residence at 329 E. Getzen St. Elkhorn, WI. Although manufacturing is still to come, T.J. and his three employees focus on band instrument repair.
Branching out from the band instrument repair business, the Getzen Co. produces it’s first trombones. The first trombones roll off the line in the summer of 1946. Only about 1,000 trombones are produced in that first year.
Following the success of the first trombones, T.J. Getzen again decides to expand and begins producing trumpets and cornets.
Seeing an ever expanding market and opportunity, T.J. expands the product line once again and starts the manufacture of piston bugles. The bugles are designed for and used by many Drum and Bugle Corps gaining popularity in the country at this time.
J. Robert (Bob) Getzen, son of T.J., is appointed plant manager of the Getzen Co. after 10 years of experience within the factory. This marks the start of the long standing family tradition that is still within the company today.
1950 – 1958
Over the decade the Getzen Co. grows to 80 employees. With the increase in employees comes an increase in production numbers as well as in quality. This increased quality quickly moves the company in the higher ranks of the industry with it’s well respected line of student band instruments. The competition even notes the quality of the Getzen instruments. Vincent Bach, president of the Vincent Bach Corp., says in 1956, “They certainly are very beautiful horns, and Getzen can be proud of being able to turn out such fine instruments…”
J. Robert Getzen follows the same footsteps as his father and resigns as the plant superintendent of the Getzen Co. to start his own business, Allied Music Co.. Bob opens his business just one mile away from the Getzen Co. in a 3,000 square foot building at 530 S. Hwy H. The entire company consists of Bob, one employee, and zero customers.
After 21 years of business, T.J. Getzen sells the Getzen Co. to Milwaukee attorney, Harold M. Knowlton. Shortly after the purchase, Mr. Knowlton moves the company from it’s original home, in the “old” barn, to another facility at 211 W. Centralia St.
With the help of Carl “Doc” Severinsen and many other well known professional musicians, the Getzen Co. begins to design and manufacture a complete line of professional trumpets, cornets, and flugelhorns. The success of the company’s student line of instruments is easily carried over to the new professional line.
From 1960 until 1990 the Getzen family did not own their name. That is why Allied Music and Allied Supply were not named Getzen Music or Getzen Supply and also why Don Getzen had to call his company “D.E.G.” (Donald E. Getzen).
On Oct. 13 the entire Getzen factory, with exception of the offices and some storage areas, is destroyed by a late night fire. The fire began at 12:30 am and burned until after 2 am. Due to the quick spreading of the flames and the extensive smoke and water damage, the factory is all but a complete loss. Almost immediately after the flames are extinguished plans were being made for the construction of the new factory.
Just a month after the devastating fire, the new Getzen factory was under construction on the same site as the destroyed building. By early December things were moving so smoothly that a target date of January 1964 was set for the resumption of manufacturing in the new facility.
Meanwhile, Allied Music Corp. is seeing continued success. Both it’s customer base and full time staff continue to grow.
A mere five months after the tragic fire destroyed the Getzen factory the new facility opens. At first, the production is limited to a few select models, but after a few months production is back up to full capacity.
Again history repeats itself and another Getzen leaves the company to start his own business. Don Getzen, second son of T.J., resigns as Executive Vice-President of the Getzen Co. and founds D.E.G. Music Products in Lake Geneva, WI.
After seven successful years at the helm of Allied Music, Bob Getzen once again works with his brother Don and Allied begins the manufacture of piston bugles for the D.E.G. Music Products Co..
Following the success of Allied Music Corp. Bob Getzen founds Allied Supply Corp.. Allied Supply specializes in replacement band instrument parts, cases, repair tools and seeks to fill an obvious void in the repair industry. Despite serving band instrument repair shops throughout the world, Allied Supply consists of a few rows of shelving located in the shipping department of the Allied Music building.
At the same time Bob begins the Allied Music Repair School. The program is designed to teach individuals the many and varied aspects of band instrument repair. Each student goes through a 48 week course that covers all of the necessary steps needed to repair any brass or woodwind band instrument. Many of the graduates go on to open their own repair shops around the country, most of which are still in business today.
History is again repeating itself as the company is shifting from instrument repair to instrument production. Allied Music begins producing a full line of trumpets, cornets, trombones and marching brass instruments for D.E.G..
Allied Music and Allied Supply have always been separate business entities. They may have shared the Allied name and at one time building, but they were always separate companies.
On May 23 fire again strikes the Getzen factory, limited mainly to the buffing department and service areas the damage was corrected within a month’s time and production was back in full swing.
Allied Supply has grown to occupy it’s own department within the Allied Music building. Now with both companies growing larger by the year, Bob Getzen decides to sell Allied Supply to his two sons Thomas R. Getzen and Edward M. Getzen. Both sons have several years of experience working for both Allied Music and Allied Supply and are eager to take over control of Allied Supply. The tradition of the family in the business continues to grow with this, the third generation.
Continuing to grow, Allied Supply now occupies several hundred square feet within the Allied Music building. The increased space is needed to house the constantly growing product line as well as the increasing staff.
After 25 years of success as the President and owner of the Getzen Co., Harold Knowlton sells the company to Charles F. Andrews. The Allied Supply catalog is out and has 196 pages.
After more than 49 years in the industry Bob Getzen sells Allied Music Co. to his sons Tom and Ed. Despite being semi-retired, Bob plays a major role in the company for many years to come.
Facing ever more crowded factory space, Allied Supply moves out of the Allied Music building and into it’s own quarters next door. The new Allied Supply building is over 9600 sq. ft. and is a vast improvement from the companies’ humble beginnings. Allied Supply now has a catalog that is 244 pages with over 10,000 items for sale.
Another big step is taken at this time as Allied Music begins production of the first Edwards Trombone. Through the Edwards Band Instrument Co. they hope to produce a trombone that meets the demanding needs of the world’s best professional trombonists. This is the first step towards the making of, arguably, the world’s best trombone.
After years of building horns for D.E.G., Allied Music begins the production of it’s own line of instruments. They work hand-in-hand with the world famous brass quintet, The Canadian Brass, to design and manufacture instruments that will be played and marketed by the group.
Quickly outgrowing it’s new location and needing to expand to better meet the needs of it’s customers, Allied Supply again expands and adds a case warehouse. The addition of this warehouse takes the total square footage of Allied supply to more than 11,000 sq.ft..
After several years of production problems and financial hardship the Getzen Co., under the direction of Charles Andrews, declares bankruptcy. Shortly there after, Allied Music Co., owned by the grandsons on the Getzen Co.’s founder, purchases the assets of the Getzen Co. out of Federal Bankruptcy Court and after 31 years the company is once again in the hands of the Getzen family. They once again own their name.
The employees and equipment from the Getzen Co. are immediately moved to their new home on highway H. Following the move, the Getzen Co. is made the parent manufacturing company and Allied Music is named a wholly owned subsidiary and repair division.
An 18,000 sq. ft. addition is built onto the Allied Music building. The new construction effectively doubles the size of the factory in order to accommodate the new equipment and employees from the Getzen Co. Once the addition is completed, the Getzen Co. and Allied Music operate together, splitting resources and personnel between new horn manufacturing and instrument repair. As Tom and Ed pledge to improve the quality of the instruments they produce, the long journey to return the Getzen Co. to it’s former greatness begins.
Following the success of the Edwards Trombones, the Getzen Co. seriously enters the trombone market with a new line of completely redesigned professional trombones. The ever improving production quality is being noticed in the market as the Getzen Co. begins to regain respect as an instrument manufacturer.
Tom and Ed decide to discontinue the Allied Music Repair School choosing instead to focus the necessary resources on new horn production.
Again facing space restrictions, Allied Music discontinues it’s woodwind instrument repair services. Now the main function of Allied Music is the repair of brass instruments. A new Allied catalog goes out to customers at 267 pages.
Following suit with the repair school and it’s woodwind department, Allied discontinues it’s brass instrument repair service. Allied Music is now dissolved and all of it’s resources and employees are dedicated to the Getzen Co.
Meanwhile, the Getzen Co. continues to regain the respect it once had within the industry as the production of higher quality instruments and the introduction of new models goes on.
After more than two decades in business together Tom Getzen purchases Ed Getzen’s shares in both the Getzen Co. and Allied Supply Co. Tom becomes the sole owner and President of both companies.
Allied Supply prints it’s updated catalog which now is 268 pages and almost 13,000 items for sale.
The long standing tradition of the family in the business continues to this day with three of Tom Getzen’s children, the fourth generation, being employed by the company.
In February, Allied founder and son of T.J. Getzen, Bob Getzen passes away after a battle with viral pneumonia. He was 76 years young.
A new Allied catalog is in the mail at 264 pages and still over 13,000 unique items.
The newest catalog is shipped in June.
Tom Getzen sells his majority ownership in the Getzen Company to his sons, Brett and Adam, while remaining the majority owner of Allied Supply Corp.