We are often asked, “How did Grover Allman start?”
It was an idea born nearly 25 years ago. Jason (Allman) and myself Kevin (Grover) both had day jobs; Jason worked as a graphic designer and I as a manager for a large plastics company. We were both guitarists, Jason much better than I. One day Jason said to me, “It looks easy being a desk jockey”. I told him that I actually really wanted to start my own business and that I had this crazy idea about making guitar picks. He said it didn’t sound crazy at all and that he had thought about it himself!
We chatted later after work and decided that we wanted to get this off the ground. Worst case scenario we wouldn’t be able to sell our first production run of 25,000 units, meaning having guitar picks for ourselves and all our friends for the rest of our lives (what a great problem to have). So Jason went ahead and designed the pick.
We wanted to come up with a name that would resonate with guitarists; we decided to call it the ‘Performer’.
The Performer, Grover Allman's first ever guitar pick.
That pick is still a great seller today and is available in our online store here. While I was visiting someone the other day he said, “Have a look at this, I have been using these for years” as he pulled a 0.65mm Performer out of his pocket. I can’t explain how excited that still makes me today.
We decided on four different gauges and off we went to a toolmaker to have the tool made. Once the tool was ready we started manufacturing the picks, the first pick that came out of the machine was so exciting. Jason and I were waiting with bated breath; it looked amazing!
This huge jar of Performer Picks still sits on my desk today!
Now what we thought would be the easy part was actually the hard part - we had to get people to buy them. We compiled addresses of music stores from the phone book, there was no Internet in those days - imagine that. Then we sat down and wrote to every store in Australia. We told them what we were about and included some samples so they could try our picks.
We were not really ready for the response, we began getting orders from all over Australia and things were getting exciting.
After six months had passed we were selling a lot of picks, we spent a huge amount of time dealing with individual stores and chasing individual accounts. It wasn’t long before three distributors approached us. We realised that it would be a far better business model for us to have three larger accounts as opposed to hundreds of small accounts. Those three distributors are still with us today.