Jerry Binder: Founder, PianoPiano

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Bio:

Jerry Binder is the Founder of leading piano rental company, PianoPiano. Jerry has spent his entire life around pianos. In 1937 Jerry’s father, Benjamin Binder introduced the world to the first ever piano selling furniture store, Binders State Street, in Trenton New Jersey. Throughout his childhood, Jerry would help his father sell pianos and organs at their family store. In 1951 Jerry enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania but was soon drafted into the U.S. Army, where he worked on a secret weapons base and was responsible for all IBM equipment operations. In this position, he was able to hone in on his attention to detail and how things work, which later contributed to his success in the piano business.

Upon returning from the U.S. Army in 1952, Jerry continued to work at his family’s business, Binders State Street, in Trenton, New Jersey. However, after a fire devastated the building, Jerry opened Hammond Organ Studios, also in Trenton, in 1958. Since 1975 in business, this shop became the largest piano dealer in the country. From that point on, Jerry has been inspired to bring more attention to pianos and urged people to learn to play the remarkable instrument.

Jerry has been in the piano business for nearly seven decades. In 1975, Jerry launched Piano Rental New York in Manhattan. This business was focused on renting new and like-new high quality pianos sourced from around the world. In 1991, Jerry’s wife, Judy, suggested renaming the company to PianoPiano, and it quickly became known for its high-end pianos, attentive customer service, and desire to encourage people of all ages to learn to play the piano. Over the years their pianos have been placed in Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher House, David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, Macy’s department store, and more. PianoPiano also has their own line of luxury pianos Avery Bond, which put PianoPiano on an international scale.

How did you get into the piano rental industry?

Throughout my childhood, I would help my father sell pianos and organs at the family store, Binder’s State Street in Trenton, NJ. We quickly learned that building relationships was an important step to success in the industry. By 1959, I had gone out on my own and opened the Hammond Organ Studio in Bordentown, NJ. By 1960, that store was the #1 Hammond Organ dealer in the United States.  Throughout the years, I had many successes in the piano industry as the top dealer for most every piano brand and finally established what would become PianoPiano in 1975 as a retail piano store.  We began to focus solely on renting pianos in the 2000s, using our years of history and knowledge of the piano industry as a basis for our business.

What is the inspiration behind PianoPiano?

My inspiration is to take the piano and make it easy and affordable for people to have one. It doesn’t have to be a major purchase. We’ll help you find the right piano and if it’s not right, we can switch it. Low commitment, no hassle, no stress.

There has been more music played on the piano than any other instrument in history. Our goal has been to continue to establish the piano as the most desirable and important instrument in music.

Any emerging industry trends?

We’re seeing a demand for more and more hybrid pianos, with multitasking and silent piano capabilities. Acoustic pianos are now moving to hybrids to fill the need for digitalization and to provide the best of both worlds. The hybridization of pianos has become huge in the industry and we’re renting more and more silent pianos every year.  We’ve also seen that the sharing economy trend has had a positive impact on our business. Renting is becoming more and more acceptable and we’re on the cutting edge of that.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Our main challenge was the logistics of getting a piano to someone’s home. We created our own 24/7 pickup and delivery system from scratch to ensure we were servicing our customers in the most efficient way possible.

What's next for PianoPiano in the near future?

With three generations in the business, the baton is being passed to the next generation. My daughter, Sarah Binder Mehta, is continuing to innovate the business and expand our reach geographically. We’ve also had a chance to travel the world and compare our piano, Avery Bond, to other kinds of pianos. We soon realized the high quality of our piano and we’ve seen tremendous success thus far. We’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Avery Bond.

Your key initiatives for the success of PianoPiano?

The key is improving life with the help of a piano and making it simple and affordable. We take care of everything from start to finish. We hope our customers learn to love the piano and the flexibility of PianoPiano, as you can rent for a few days or a few years or forever!

Your most difficult moment in the business? Were you able to learn something from that moment?

The most difficult moment for me was after 9/11. New York City was in total devastation and businesses were losing money and losing hope. Companies and local stores were unfortunately facing bankruptcy and this was our chance to remain strong. We were able to take advantage of this moment as our competitors couldn’t support themselves. We made sure we took care of our customers and continued to create and improve relationships with manufacturers. Our public supported us, and we of course supported them.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

The ideal experience is to have a seamless piano rental process. Some customers will call with questions and confusion about which piano to rent and we love to be able to ease that stress and find the perfect match. We answer your questions upfront and we care about helping people find the right piano for them, play it, and keep it if they want to.  When its time for the piano to be picked up, we make that easy too. We never try to force our clients to purchase their piano, but if they want, that’s always an option as well.

How do you motivate others?

Since we are a family-owned business, we like to have a close family-feel in the work place. We want our employees to feel motivated and excited to speak to customers and help them find the piano they deserve. We’ve created a helpful environment through taking the time to qualify customers and our employees.

Career advice to those in your industry?

My advice is to build your business in a way that makes it everlasting. We learned the importance of guarding the business so it would grow and prosper and because of that we were able to remain successful for many years. Secondly, it’s important to think like a business person and always educate yourself.