For more than 30 years, if a mid-Michigan resident has a need for a wind instrument, Eric Satterlee was there to help. His store, Meridian Winds, has seen it all. From a badly broken tuba to the founder of a multi billion dollar industry, Meridian Winds has been there to faithfully serve its community.
Meridian Winds Instrument repair was founded in 1984 by Eric Satterlee. Today, he still owns the store. Over the years Meridian Winds has developed an international reputation for instrument repair and sales.
“I think that everybody who works here just tries to do a good job” says Satterlee.
Bruce McCall, the store’s double reed specialist, is one of a handful of repair technicians working at Meridian Winds.
“Most music stores are music stores that happen to have a repair shop, we’re a repair shop that happens to be a music store” says Bruce.
Out of all the employees, most have a Master’s Degree in music and a background in performing. Bruce himself studied oboe and bassoon at Michigan State University. Between all of them they can repair any wind instrument that comes to them.
“If it has to do with blowing into an instrument, and we don’t have it, you don’t need it” says Satterlee, “We have pretty much everything for wind instruments that anybody’s ever asked us for in the last 30 years.”
When asked about the most drastic repairs the store has ever done, Satterlee pointed to half a tuba sitting in the corner of the studio room. Often times instruments come into the store in such bad condition that their repair cost surpasses their total value. In these cases, creativity is applied to give the instruments a second life.
“There’s a tuba that we turned into a plant stand…We also have a lot of lamps around the store,” said Satterlee.
The main instruments the store deals with are saxophones.
“There’s a banner hanging up there that says ‘Sax pro shop’…That’s not something they send out to everybody, only designated shops that have a really good reputation,” explained McCall.
Michigan State is just one of several universities with a strong saxophone program in the area. Over the years Meridian winds has developed an outstanding reputation for repairing and selling these instruments, although working with the universities is not a big part of the stores activity. Most of the repairs come from local students or professionals who seek the store for its reputation.
In the studio room of the store sits a bright red worn leather couch. Not too long ago it sat in the office of Donald Sinta, a famous saxophone musician and former professor at the University of Michigan. Decorating the walls are signed headshots and photos of Sinta performing.
“Do you want to hear the most famous story about our store?” Asked Satterlee.
In 1987, Meridian Winds hired an East Lansing High School student named Larry Page who claimed he could “revolutionize” the store. Page had Satterlee buy over $10,000 worth of Apple computer products. Within one year, Meridian Winds was recognized as one of the first 100 music stores in the country to have a website. Page worked at the store for seven years before he and another colleague founded the company known as Google.
“If he had asked me for a loan, and I would have given it to him, I’d be a millionaire!” said Satterlee, joking.
The local and international reputation built by Meridian Winds continues to grow every day. It’s safe to say they can handle any and every issue with a wind instrument.