About the J.L. Smith Company
It All Began With Repair…
J.L. Smith first opened its doors in 1991. At that point the company was a one-person band instrument repair shop serving mostly local musicians. It was a humble beginning. The first location didn't even have a rest room; it was “quaint” as they say. Jeff had been performing expert instrument repair since 1977 and had established a reputation as a leading authority in the field. As musicians discovered the exceptional quality and detail of his work the business began to grow, necessitating the addition of employees… and plumbing. From there it was a natural progression to leverage Jeff’s knowledge and experience by developing a modest selection of quality supplies that we offered to the trade under the Performance Music Products banner.
Then We Began Selling Flutes…
In 1995 we began offering high quality flutes to our customers in the underserved Southeast. This is our only retail endeavor and again, it was a natural extension or our business based on our extensive knowledge of woodwinds and our reputation for exceptional flute repair work. Since its inception the J.L. Smith retail flute department has grown to become one of the country’s most respected flute specialty houses.
Then Came Valentino
In 2004, we purchased the Valentino Company. We have always been huge fans of Pete Valentino’s innovative products and had used Valentino Greenback pads with tremendous success in our repair work for years before becoming a key Valentino distributor. At the time we purchased the company the Valentino product line included items for quick and easy repair by band directors, musicians’ "fix kits", pads and supplies for professional technicians, and pads, supplies and components for instrument manufacturers. Since acquiring the company we have continued the tradition of innovating and advancing the materials and manufacturing process that Pete was famous for and we have expanded the product line to include a full range of synthetic pads, felt pads, springs, lubricants and accessories under the Valentino brand.
Then We Added Ed Myers
In 2006, we bought most of the assets of the Ed Myers Company. This brought us an array of new tools, parts and supplies for brass instrument repair, in addition to many brilliant Rex Bullock-designed tools, which we continue to manufacture and improve upon. The popular Hollywood resonators were part of the deal also.
Today We're Still Growing
Over the years, J.L. Smith has evolved into a leading maker and vender of American built tools, testing equipment, components and repair supplies to the instrument repair and instrument manufacturing trades globally, as well as a major nation-wide specialty retailer of fine flutes. We now proudly serve technicians and instrument makers in over 40 countries worldwide and the company includes 20+ great people who work together as a close-knit team to develop innovative products, perform expert repairs and find the perfect flutes for musicians of all levels. Everything we do we do with total commitment and passion for the music, the instruments, the art of repair and especially the musicians and technicians who have appreciated and supported the work we do. It’s an honor and a pleasure to serve the wonderful customers we have and we look forward to continuing the tradition for many years to come.
Some Key People in our Company:
J.L. Smith - President
Recognized throughout the world as a leading authority on woodwind instruments and band instrument repair, J.L. Smith has been repairing instruments professionally since 1977. He has owned or operated all manner of workshops ranging in scope from single proprietorships, to 20-person service departments and over the course of 35 years he has trained and supervised many of the nations leading repair technicians. Jeff believes very strongly in the value of his craft and he takes a keen interest in passing his knowledge to the next generation of technicians and musicians.
He is a frequent teacher and guest lecturer for NAPBIRT at regional and national events, as well as the Technical Training Center in Normal, IL and he contributes his expertise to numerous other industry organizations. He has recently made some of his knowledge available in print with his popular technical guides: "Servicing The Flute" and "Servicing The Clarinet" and is presently working on a guide for saxophone. When he’s not working to make the world a safer place for wind instruments, and those who play them, he messes around with guitars, sailboats, and his dog, Mud.
Harold Phillips - Service Department Supervisor
With more than 32 years of experience, Harold Phillips is one of the most highly regarded woodwind technicians in the country. He’s a legend in the field of band instrument repair and the stalwart Supervisor or of the J.L. Smith repair shop. Under his watch the J.L. Smith workshop maintains the highest standards of technical artistry and innovation. In addition to working tirelessly to keep the instruments of thousands of local musicians in top condition, Harold also serves as our Guru in Chief, teaching those who come to us to learn the art, and mentoring up-and-coming in-house technicians. And because our cutting edge repair facilities also serve as the front lines for our Tooling And Repair Product Testing Division, he is typically one of the first people to test our latest products and prototypes. Harold often teaches classes and clinics for NAPBIRT and various other industry groups so if you ever have the chance to attend one of these events you definitely should. He has serious chops on flute, sax and clarinet and is one of the world’s great masters of piccolo repair. What’s more, he’s passionate about sharing his knowledge with others.
Cathy Phillips - Director of Operations
At the heart of our company is Cathy Phillips. Cathy is the genius accountant and business coordinator who manages and directs all of our internal systems including (but definitely not limited to) human resources, finance, inventory oversight, record keeping and all manner of administrative duties including occasionally stepping in to take orders and answer customer questions. She is also one of the nicest people you’re likely to come across. Cathy possesses a very rare combination of gifts and skills that makes her possibly the world’s greatest musical business director: a keen sense of business organization, mad skills with a calculator, a background in clarinet, a degree in music education from West Virginia University, and an innate “big picture” understanding of the importance of customer service and how it is affected by the behind the scenes operations.
Next to J.L. Smith himself, Mark is our longest serving team member and one who has participated in each stage of our development from humble repair shop to leading international repair supply resource. For years he was the man behind the Repair Supply Department and many of you knew him as the “voice” of J.L. Smith, taking all the phone orders and answering customer questions. His sense of craft, his skills with materials development and his keen eye for quality control has made him essential to the success of our diverse product lines. He now leads our in-house production teams for Valentino pad production, punched products manufacturing and production team training. When he’s not busy keeping up with his extreme-overachiever children, Mark studies violin, vibraphone and keyboard, or occasionally gigs with his main instrument: drums. As far as we can assess, he never sleeps.
Sarah Haymore is one of the finest professional flute consultants we know of and we’re glad to have her back with us at J.L. Smith after a two-year hiatus. We missed her while she was away but it was time well spent working as an Altus sales representative and earning her Masters in Flute Performance from the University of Miami, Frost School of Music where she studied under Trudy Kane, former principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera. Sarah earned her Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from North Carolina School of the Arts studying with Tadeu Coelho and Philip Dunigan and she has served on the faculty of Westminster Christian School in Miami, FL, the James C. Harper School of Performing Arts in Lenoir, NC, the NewArt School in Newton, NC, and the North Carolina School of the Arts Community Music School.
In addition to her substantial talent as a flutist and her remarkable skill as a teacher, Sarah also has a real gift and passion for working with players of all levels and ages to discover the unique attributes of their personal playing styles and individual performance needs. It’s this passion for understanding the physical nuances, playing techniques and personal desires of flutists, along with her tremendous knowledge of the various flute brands and materials, that makes her such a tremendous asset to musicians looking for the right instruments to empower their playing.