We had the good fortune of connecting with Lon Cohen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lon, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
I always joke around that I was “toilet trained too early”.. What I mean by this, is that I have a habit of needing everything to be neat, clean and organized. Along with this, my father engrained in me the need to “do the right thing”, meaning “do a good job”, “treat people well” and “stand behind your work”. That said, there are certainly plenty of people around who don’t care about that kind of integrity, but I appreciated that I have attracted many people who do. These are the customers and clients that I want. People who appreciate our quality, care, concern and integrity.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I was always a “right brain” type of person. So, although I am allergic to things like manuals and tech, I have a well developed sense of intuition and creativity. I think that this pairs nicely with my “perfectionism” in that I am able to tell if a musical instrument is good or not. The way it looks, feels, sounds, plays is of paramount importance to me. I imagine it’s kind of like a sommelier in that my customers and clients can rely on my “picks” and they seem to always be happy. Although I am extremely proud of my handpicked musical instruments that I have collected over 30 years, I am most proud of my employees and their character. As far as how I got here?? There is an old story about a cruise ship on a voyage. While out on the high seas, young child goes overboard. Everyone is yelling and screaming, “man overboard!!”. All of the young, able men are just watching in horror and finally an old man in his 80’s goes sailing over the railing into the ocean. He swims over to and rescues the child. By now, the crew has dispatched measures and they are both brought back on board. Later on, they are interviewing the old man and they asked, “where did you get your courage and why were you able to do this even though all of the younger and stronger men didn’t help? The old man says, “I don’t know what you are talking about. I wish someone would just let me know who pushed me!” Long way around the block of saying, that I never planned to have a company like this. It just happened to me. I used to work for a guy in the early 80’s who had a small rental company and I learned the ropes then. Slowly, I amassed more and more gear and eventually we had a parting of the ways, and I had to start my own company in order to survive. It was not easy. The stress of starting a company pretty much from scratch was daunting. Coming up with the money for a building, employees, computers, tools, parts, etc.. etc.. etc.. and slugging through slow times and employees coming and going etc.. I overcame he challenges by hanging in there, staying the course and believing in myself. Eventually things settled in and the “well oiled” machine started running. The lessons I learned are many and great, but mostly it is realizing that life is a “zero sum game”. This means that things come and they go. One door closes and one opens up. So, I have learned to sit back, relax, do my thing and trust that the phone will ring and not take things too seriously. I think many can relate to this particularly during these trying times. I guess that what I would want the world to know is that in this crazy time where many people are driven by fear and greed, we are one place where they can go to be treated well, fairly and with understanding and integrity. If you have ever tried to call a big corporation to get customer service and were greeted with a rude representative who doesn’t know what they are doing, puts you on hold and then you get disconnected…. then hopefully you can appreciated a small company who does the opposite and actually cares.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, given that we are in “Covid” times, this is a catch question, but in normal times, I would: drive up PCH along the coast and through Topanga Canyon. Walk around Fishermans Village and Burton Chase Park in Marina Del Rey and then maybe take them to Hollywood or the arts district in Downtown LA. I would take them to eat at the Fish Bar in Manhattan Beach, get sushi at Oops in West LA or a good steak at Flemmings. But before then… a craft cocktail at Bar Toscana in Brentwood. For exciting people, I’d drop them off at the Venice Ocean Front Walk and let them see for themselves!!!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
OK, there are a few. First dedication goes to my parents who instilled that sense of “care” and “integrity”. The next would go to my treasured staff and crew. They are all hardworking, thoughtful and good people. In particular though, I have to acknowledge my manager, Dan. His work ethic, loyalty, commitment and integrity are unparalleled…. not to mention his vast knowledge and passion for gear. Can’t say enough about this man.