On July 1st, the $438 million sale of Queens-based piano maker Steinway & Sons broke the hearts of many pianists and musical artists alike. Private equity firm Kohlberg & Company has taken over the reigns, prompting people to question the future of the piano company. Steinway has demonstrated consistent quality and care into manufacturing its pianos, and there’s speculation as to whether Kohlberg will be able to carry on its legacy. Just last year, Untapped Cities had a chance to view the inner workings of Steinway’s New York factory through photographer Christopher Payne. We discovered it takes an entire year to build a Steinway piano, which consists of 12,000 parts – and wonder if the recent sale will change their time-honored manufacturing methods.
The company experienced declining revenues over the past few years, due to the recession and the falling demand for pianos in homes. Throughout its history, Steinway has changed hands five times; its last acquisition was by band-instrument manufacturer Selmer Industries, which proved to be successful under interim CEO Michael Sweeney. With New York’s beloved piano company going private under Kohlberg now, we can only hope it brings better things for Steinway’s future. In addition to this news, the flagship Steinway & Sons building on 57th Street was sold for $46 million in March. Steinway can remain in the showroom until 2014 but it looking for a new location.
The New York Times has more on the story. This year marks the 160th anniversary of Steinway’s inception in New York, when Henry Engelhard Steinway first started the company on Varick Street.
See more photos from the Steinway & Sons factory here.