History of Piano Service Co Ltd. (as known by J B Taylor E&O.E 11/10/1993)
Fredrick Bertie Sheiley started the business about 1947.
He was a cockney, very good salesman and had lived in NZ for quite some time – he served in the Pacific during the war.
Originally the shop was in George Street PN along from the ballroom Astoria – when I joined the firm this was used as a storage base – Bell pianos were stacked 2 high in their crates.
Fred started importing pianos in the early 50’s – mainly Bell, Knight, Cramer etc. He on sold some of these shipments to other dealers throughout the country.
In approx 1954 the shop moved to 80 The Square, and in 1960 expanded to take in 81 as well.
During the T.V. era the firm had the “Bell” agency and sold many TV’s radiograms etc.
The Original vehicle was a Morris Commercial Van (1951) which could carry 3 pianos at once.
I joined the firm as a schoolboy during holidays and after school in 1960. At that time we also had a bedford van with sliding doors and a raised roof.
Fred employed a series of tuners – Charlie Driver, Tony Pennington (ex Broadwood Factory),Len Andrews, Eric Stewart (ex English Factory). I started full time with the firm in 1964. Ray Trownson worked for years in the shop (selling). Fred son, Tony Shelley worked on & Off for the company and finally bought the firm from Fred in 1974.
Fred had the Yamaha agency from about 1963 – imported as “Steigerman” as the Japs weren’t still too popular.
Tony had a number of workers – Ken Schlierike – part timer (old friend of Freds). Murray Harris, Venona Nicols (head hunted from the old orignal Beggs chain before it went under – Wisemans bought the Beggs chain and then sold it to individual managers (Rob Roy in PN)).
The sheet music side was upstairs above the shop (I did the alterations, etc) until it was moved down into the shop when the rear extention was built by the owners of the building.
By this time the shop frontage had been narrowed to be 81 The Square only and a carpet shop, Mark Twain Restaurant & cofee Bar all at one time moved into the old area.
In 1980 Tony decide to sell the business and move to Australia.
The firm was sold to Pat and Helen Thomas. Pat organised a Yamaha music school at first in the rear of the shop then upstairs teaching electronic organ.
In approx 1988 the rent on the building trebled so Pat moved over next to McDonalds on the other side of the square and I left to work on my own, selling though the shop and using them as an agency – at this time Brian Watt bough into the firm (now known as the Music Centre)
I had both there permissions to use the name Piano Services and trade as a sole trader. (Piano Service Co LTD ended).
In 90 -91 I sold the old firms gear, name and goodwill to Allen C Birchler (rest of history follows).
The old string maker was sold in about 1981 to Beggs (Wgt) – it was given to me by Tony when he left – but I didn’t know how to use it!
Both Fred & Tony (&Pat) used Frank Caple (the local blind tuner) for some shop tunings and for “fussy tuning customers” – Frank died 14 Dec 1988.
Fred was a hard case guy – loved his race horses – Piano Service Co Ltd advertised for years every Sat. am and sponsored the race horse scratchings. He owned 2 race horses – also loved his trout fishing, long line sea fishing & whitebate. He built a large house at Waiterere overlooking the bowling green but his wife died suddenly so he moved to Taupo, Auckland & bank to Taupo where he ran “Friendly Freds”, a second hand shop before going to Mangakino where he died in 1992.
History of E. H. VERNON & Co LTD (as known by A Birchler.)
The first meeting of this company was held on Tuesday 5th April 1949 at 4.30pm. At this meeting it was reported by the company solicitor, Mr T.M.N. Rodgers that the company had been incorporated on 25 March 1949 under number 116. However business didn’t actually commence until 4th April 1949.
Mr Ernest Zuccani Henry Vernon and Mr Gordon Mervyn John Currie were share holders. Later that year Mr Gorge Richard Green became a share holder and the 3 became directors of the company. In 1949 Three Hundred Pound was borrowed from the State Advances Corporation of New Zealand to buy a Hillman Truck, this was personally guaranteed by Mr Green.
In October 1949 Mr Vernon resigned from been Managing Director and Mr Currie was put in place, by the end of 1949 Currie and Green requested that Vernon resign as a director. This is the last mention of EH Vernon in the Minutes Books.
In 1981 Green resigned and Leonce C P Jones was appointed Director (Curries son-in-law). In 1993 Currie died and the Company was purchased by Allen C Birchler in July that year.
With this change over, EH Vernon & Co Ltd bought Piano Services from Allen C Birchler and then the company started trading as Piano Services (EH Vernon & Co Ltd).
The previous living directors have been asked to help with some company history but so far have not been forthcoming. They saw myself as an unwelcomed competitor and the take over was not in their business plan! “VENI VEDI VECI”
G Currie was known around this area for his dance band, many people still ask about him. The area he serviced was the general PN districts.
History of both PIANO SERVICES and EH VERNON & Co Ltd since Birchler ownership.
After working as an independent tuner for about 8 years in Palmerston North Allen C Birchler bought Piano Services from JB Taylor in 1990. The purchase of Piano Services came about because unusual trading practices at the time …..There was a person tuning pianos in the area who was doing cash work, not paying the correct tax and also collecting the unemployment benefit, AC Birchler felt that was not fair so he placed an advertisement with the Social Welfare Dept. for a piano tuner to work for him (if there was an unemployed piano tuner on their books the Social Welfare would subsidize the wages). This lead to the tuner not wanting to work for AC Birchler because it would mean that his business would have to close shop – this resulted in the Social Welfare pulling the plug on the dole money. However JB Taylor was friends with the tuner and he found out about the job vacancy (which was really on offer to stop the competition doing under hand deals and claiming the dole) and applied, this lead to him selling the business to AC Birchler.
The Piano Services shop then moved to 198 Rangitikei Street where it traded until the fast food chain (Georgie Pie) bought it out of the lease, then it moved to 16 Bennett Street for 3 years before moving back to 278 Rangitikei Street, in 2001 Piano Services move to 190 Featherston Street Palmerston North with both the workshop and the showroom.
EH Vernon & Co Ltd was purchased from Currie in 1993, all the stock and plant was moved to 198 Rangitikei Street and in 1993 EH Vernon bought Piano Services from AC Birchler, now the name EH Vernon & Co Ltd is trading Piano Services. This resulted in the two piano tuning company’s ending up under the one roof. All the tuning and repair work is now undertaken by AC Birchler.