Forged through a commitment to quality products and services for music education, NEMC’s long history was founded with the vision of enriching lives through music.
The NEMC story begins with NEMC’s founder and President, Raymond Benedetto, who grew up in New Jersey playing the trumpet and later doubling on flute. As a High School student in the 1940’s he began playing trumpet in a 15-piece band that played in local clubs. He continued to play professionally while studying music at Montclair State University. After earning a teaching degree in 1952 he went to work at a New Jersey public school, where for the next several years he served as a music director. During this time he continued to play in swing bands that accompanied well-known singers who appeared in clubs in New Jersey, New York City, and the popular upstate New York resorts of the Catskills. He also played in a professional band playing Latin music. Because the inflexibility of a school schedule prevented him from traveling to out-of-town engagements, he left his teaching job and began working part time at a large local music store as the store’s Educational Director, in charge of renting musical instruments. Benedetto became increasingly dissatisfied with the poor quality of musical instruments offered through rental programs, and his dream of providing quality instruments with excellent support met with a cool reception from the store owners. As a result, Benedetto resigned from the company, quit his professional playing career and started his own company.
Benedetto founded New Jersey Educational Music Company in 1957 and began drumming up business by visiting schools and establishing relationships with music directors and school administrators. He worked with his customers to demonstrate the instruments, either at school assemblies or individual music classes and, while working out of the trunk of his car, built the beginnings of a rental business. He spent his evenings working at home in his unheated garage, repairing and restoring the instruments, often using a pair of gloves with the fingers cut off in order to deal with the cold winters.
Benedetto’s business was soon successful enough that he was able to move into a small storefront location in Summit, New Jersey. Roughly fifteen feet by 30 feet in size, the space was just large enough to accommodate a desk and house his instruments. His dedication to his vision of quality and service in the new business paid off, as word of New Jersey Educational Music Company soon extended well beyond Summit. Benedetto was approached by music teachers in New York who were dissatisfied with their local instrument rental program and drove all the way to Summit to visit with him, and ultimately become customers.
By 1965 Benedetto had outgrown his space and he moved to a three-story building in Summit. At the outset he only used the first floor and basement but eventually took over the other two floors as he created a full-fledged service department and hired additional staff. Demand for quality instruments continued to grow and soon the company’s rental program extended to Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
In 1968 Benedetto changed the name of the company to National Educational Music Company and began developing an Affiliate program that was unprecedented in the music industry. The concept was simple: Affiliated music dealers, relieved of the capital investment and other expenses and burdens of running a rental program and supplied with only quality instruments, could provide to their community the best rental program for beginning music students.
A music store in Binghampton New York became the first NEMC Affiliate in 1970 and in addition to building the business, Benedetto began building the management team that is still with the company today. New Affiliates were gradually added and by 1983 NEMC was servicing Affiliates in more than a dozen states. NEMC outgrew the three-story building in Summit and moved to nearby Mountainside New Jersey where a 3.3 acre site would accommodate his warehouse needs, as well as a service center and general offices.
NEMC continued its leadership role in the industry and in August of 2011 Benedetto announced that NEMC’s management team had partnered with MidCap Equity Partners of New York to acquire the company. Benedetto stated that, “I could not be happier. Having founded this company over fifty years ago and taking into account its strong history, it was very important to me that we find the right partner to continue providing the same quality and excellent service to our customers. I am convinced we have found a financial partner who will embrace management’s plans to enhance our innovative solutions for affiliated independent music retailers and consumers, while maintaining NEMC’s rich heritage.”