20 years of Project Music, Exeter, Devon
Project Music is proud to celebrate a 20 year anniversary in March 2020, with over 50 years of experience, insight and hard work. Managed by the same person since 2000, this business wants to say thanks for the understanding and experience provided by the owner’s dad, who was submerged in the industry and to say thank you for its continued success, to every team member, every partner, every family member and every business and personal friend who has made this amazing company.
Thanks, especially, goes to the current team, who are a real testimony to the hard work put in, that makes Project Music the dedicated, person focused, professional high end guitar shop that’s exists today.
Project Music can trace its history right back to the 70’s. Where the shop’s name and history originated.
Here is Jim, the owner’ father:
“I first started in 1969 at his shop called the Musical Bargain centre, selling musical instruments, mainly guitars. This was at the end of the 60s it was the right era; the end if the swinging 60s. We sold second hand stuff then, at the west end shop. Lee used to come down to the shop when he was 5 or 6. In 1973 the shop became Dave Simms music centre.
In the 70s we started getting involved in making disco equipment and formed a separate Project Electronics. There was three directors Dave Simms, Jim St Pier and Paul Raymond. I opened a shop in 1985 having worked for Roland UK Limited, and Dave Simms Music Centre, just up the road in The Grove, off Ealing High Street in West London.
We had the music shop on the ground floor and upstairs we started manufacturing lighting and disco equipment. We started exporting ad used to go to overseas exhibitions. This led to us starting a trade association because we felt we think we can do this better ourselves and started to put on an annual exhibition at Earls court, eventually it became the Professional Light and Sound Association (PLASA). I was the chairman of PLASA and it was hard work but now it is an international organisation and many of my contacts are still in touch with Lee’s business now.”
All that experience has been cultivated and developed within Project Music. The same quality relationships with customers, the same trusted communications; face to face and internationally has been honed and is at the strongest element in the company. After joining him in the school holidays as a child, Lee left school at 15 and worked as a market retailer and then for Aria (a well-known guitar company) He then joined his dad, full time, in Hounslow. Jim St. Pier, in charge of the new Project Electronic Music carried Roland lines and a selection of electronic keyboards by other manufacturers. He offered lot of equipment for the prospering home recording market and was catered for musicians from all over West London and Middlesex and those using the A4 and M4 to journey in from further afield.
Back to Jim:
“What happened eventually; we moved from the grove to Westwood house in 1979 in a big factory complex on the west wood road. We got so busy we got a bigger factory and we had 30 people at one time to employ. I was probably doing 3 to 4 gigs at the time. (Jim St Pier is a professional saxophone player who played in Rob Storm and the Whispers, who were widely acknowledged as being the first rock/pop band to play behind the Iron Curtain, and as a session musician).
We eventually sold the company to Roland and I left and started Project , usic at Salisbury road Hounslow. This was a new endeavour as I hadn’t managed retail before. We did everything, cabinets, drum kits guitars and we sold the lot. We were there until 1993 when we moved to massive premises on the shop floor.
Initially hi tech equipment, keyboards, synthesiers, recordin equipment. You an buy stuff sit in bedroom and compose, that changed a lot as music trends changed and then we moved to Devon in 1998. Lee learnt everything he knew from working at the shop.”
Jim, highly recognised in the industry, retired one year after Lee’s Project Music store opened in Exeter. Initially, Lee’s Project Music store in Exeter was a general music shop selling a wide range of equipment and sound systems. Over time, it became more and more apparent that there was a real passion and understanding of the guitar market and it became a natural migration to become an out and out guitar specialist; a process that happened over the first decade of the shop’s existence.
In its first location, 68 Bartholomew Street West Exeter, Project Music expanded three times due to demand. The flat upstairs was knocked through and the company moved into other rooms adjacent to the building, placing massive investments in stock and staffing. In 2006 Project Music moved to 16 Bartholomew Street. This large city centre property over three floors is the current premises and marks the advent of the creation of the company as it is now known. From 2006 the business took off and became a recognised leading specialist for sought after brands such as Brook, Collings, Fender Custom shop and Suhr ; to name but a few.
The current team consist of a core tribe of people who are highly experienced, dedicated and long serving individuals who are both friends and colleagues.
In the picture below we have received our first delivery of Brook guitars and you can see one of our longest serving members of staff, Mike on the left next to the owner Lee.
Mike is a well-known figure in the local scene and a central figure to the store who is often found spending his time chatting and playing guitars to customers on our famous red sofa. @projectmusicsw sofa.
Josh is our most recent member, who joined 2017 part time, he is now full time and in the thick of it helping the team with logistics and customer service.
Lee, same name as manager but a totally different kettle of fish, started in 2010 has become a really highly popular member of staff and has an incredible range of knowledge and experience and is something of a telecaster nut. He runs our dispatch operations
Many customers dealing with online enquiries and being furnished with set of photos and data on our instrument swill have found themselves dealing with one of our directors, Conan. He has grown into managing several crucial roles for the business that include online marketing and sales.
Jason, rarely seen in the shop floor, is like thunderbird 5. You never see him but you know he is there. Under pinning everything the company has achieved he has provided us with the IT platform for our online worldwide sales.
Phil is our sales director. He runs the day to day sales and purchasing operations. He has considerable expertise and is sought after in the trade for his technical understanding and customer support. He is hugely experienced guitar technician and runs Tone Lab guitar services from the same Exeter address as Project Music.
Jim St Pier still helps out with admin every now and in celebration of 20 years and the current team, we have ordered a select number of customised designed guitars that have special relevance to the team and our suppliers in recognition of this milestone. Lee St Pier is proud that Project Music has always managed the ebb and flow of varying trading conditions and are looking forward to the years ahead from a well matured understanding of the trade and a fantastic experienced team by his side, Project Music will always strive to be the best we can be, honest, reliable and making sure we get the best guitars into our customers hands.