Wenger Corporation Celebrates 75 Years

Mike Lawson • ChoralNews • July 3, 2021

A Tradition of Excellence in Products and Service

Wenger Corporation is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2021 with a number of events scheduled throughout the year to commemorate the company’s growth and success.

“For 75 years, Wenger Corporation has been producing innovative products for music education and has also expanded into performing arts and athletic markets. Our reputation for quality, durability and service has grown along with us,” said Chris Simpson, President and CEO of Wenger Corporation. “Today we’re proud of our catalog of trusted products, as well as the relationships we’ve built with our generations of loyal customers.”

Humble Beginnings
Wenger Corporation began in 1946, when local high school band director Harry Wenger, known around town as the “Music Man,” combined his passion for music education with innovation. He witnessed the lack of good equipment like music stands and chairs, so he made his own.

His first invention, the Sousaphone Chair which supported the heavy instrument, got the attention of other band directors when Wenger and his wife, Ruth, would travel to state music conventions and take orders. He soon moved on to choral risers and staging systems.

Wenger began marketing these products by catalog and direct mail. By 1964, there were over 40 products in the Wenger catalog, and the company celebrated its first million-dollar year.

A third family member, Wenger’s son Jerry, grew up working in the business, as many members of the Wenger family did over the years. In 1970, he brought a strategic growth plan to the company. By their 40th anniversary, Jerry Wenger led them to their strongest year ever with the introductions of popular new product lines such as Sound Module Practice Rooms, Music Posture Chairs and Music Stands in music education, as well as Tourmaster™ portable choral risers and the Showmobile® mobile performance center in the performing arts category.

Growth in Performing Arts
With decades of acoustical expertise and dozens of acoustical experts, it only made sense to expand the products to include acoustical shells, wall and ceiling panels, new stage designs and other elements used by performing arts centers everywhere. Wenger became the brand to turn to for sound expertise.

In 2011, Wenger acquired J.R. Clancy, making the company an even greater comprehensive resource, by adding manual and automated rigging control solutions to their offerings. Similar to Wenger’s simple start, John Clancy began his career as a stagehand who, inspired by the lack of suitable alternatives, started designing and building stage-rigging equipment. The addition of the J.R. Clancy line of rigging, hoist and motion control systems created a comprehensive solution for music education and performing arts centers worldwide.

Addition of Athletics
The company created the GearBoss brand of products in 2004 to cater to sports organizations struggling with equipment management. GearBoss started with creating high-density storage solutions for high schools and colleges needing a streamlined space to house equipment. From there, the company added standard and custom wood lockers to their product lineup, including the AirPro®, Elite™ and Rival™ lines. These next-generation lockers include custom storage options for things like helmets, bats or shoulder pads, team logos, LED lighting, USB ports for charging and built-in sanitation and ventilation measures. Flexible storage and transport carts provided solutions for teams transitioning to the practice field. Many facilities now enjoy Wenger, J.R. Clancy and GearBoss products in their music education, performing arts and athletic areas.

2021 and Beyond
Today, Wenger employs more than 500 people in their Minnesota and New York locations. Nearly 600 Wenger, J.R. Clancy and GearBoss products can be found in over 50 countries.

To give back to the community and get back to its roots in music education, Wenger launched a Thank You campaign in early 2021 to recognize the incredible efforts educators made to keep the music alive during the pandemic. The campaign featured educators nominated by their peers and students. Wenger provided valuable and useful prizes to the winners, such as a Teacher Taxi® Mobile Cart, a Flex® Conductor’s System, and a Mobile Media Storage Cabinet.

“To say that we’re inspired by the response of music teachers during the pandemic would be an understatement,” says Stacy Hanson, Director of Marketing Communications at Wenger. “Their adaptability, creativity and new ideas have inspired students everywhere.”

“Our reputation and products have taken us into a wide variety of markets such as performing arts, rental and production and broadcast and entertainment,” says Simpson. “Wenger is a classic American success story. For 75 years this has been a place where good people put hard work behind good ideas. It’s a place where quality counts and products are built to last. Most importantly, it’s a place that helps bring music to the lives of people everywhere.”

Watch Wenger Corporation’s 75th anniversary video here. For more information about the company and this year’s 75th anniversary events, please visit www.wengercorp.com/75.

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