Musical company

Swicegood Music Company brings music to Mid County – Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — Swicegood Music Company may not have a lot of foot traffic at its headquarters, but its customers span about 30 school districts statewide.

And that’s only part of the business.

In addition to offering a full line of band and orchestral instruments, Swicegood offers sheet music, band accessories and a full repair service.

Just under four months ago, Swicegood moved from Beaumont College Street to a brand new 10,000 square foot building at 1505 Lone Star Drive in the Netherlands. The store faces the northern part of Twin City Highway.

There is a lot of history

Passing musical accessories, drum sets and keyboards and neat walls of music books, owner Kurt Killian enters his office.

Killian and his business partner Dan Veen acquired the company in 2003, but its origins go back decades.

Killian explained that the original owner was Roy Swicegood. Roy was a group director at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches. A man named Alto Tatum had opened Tatum Music in Longview and helped Swicegood get his start in the area in 1953.

Roy retired in the early 1970s and Tatum and his partners bought him. One such owner was Leo Stevens, who owned Swicegood until 2003. He then changed ownership to Killian and Veen, with Veen retiring in 2015.

The music store has had locations in downtown Beaumont as well as Port Arthur; 710 9th Ave. and 3315 Twin City Highway in the Jefferson City Mall.

The music is in his soul

Killian is a lifelong musician and former band manager, so the decision to own Swicegood was easy.

“I’ve been in music my whole life,” Killian said. “The ability to stay in that scene or that setting and know that ultimately I would have the opportunity to own a business and all the perks that come with it…being my own boss.”

Killian employs 18 people, three of whom handle outside sales, traveling from Houston to Crosby to Humble to Livingston, to West Sabine, Pineland, Hemphill to the state line, he said.

The repair side of the business attracts walk-in customers, but almost everything else goes through the road guys, as he called the outside sales staff.

The 30 school districts stretch a long way, encompassing approximately 100 schools.

As an educator, Killian began his career as a group director at Thomas Jefferson High School, working under Herb Germer, then at Thomas Edison Junior High with Mike Monzingo. He also taught in the Netherlands for eight years.

And when he’s not running the business, he plays with the band, Eazy.

Swicegood’s new location

Killian said their former location on College Street was in a 60-year-old building. Over the years, the neighborhood has developed, businesses have been added along the road.

In 2019, the store was flooded with a foot of water during Hurricane Imelda. He had flood insurance and soon saw the walls and carpeting removed and repaired.

“It was just unpleasant,” he said of the damage.

But it resumed operations as soon as possible to get back to serving the needs of its customers.

But after a while, the location no longer fit its business model.

With renewed interest in this part of Beaumont, he began to receive calls from people interested in purchasing his property, but turned them down for a while.

He spoke with a friend who is a commercial realtor and began looking for a new business home with no success until the friend asked if he was considering moving to Mid County.

“He had just built a 10,000 square foot building and said it was just a shell,” he said. “We designed it and he built it for me.”

On December 15, Swicegood officially moved to the Netherlands.

Since then, he has noticed more customers from Central and South County.

The busiest times of the year are from June to the end of September, he said, adding that the majority of repairs are done in the summer and most sales are from August to September.

Dedication

Employee Kathy Hollier Rodgers, a retired choir director from Groves Middle School, is a household name in the area. She retired in May 2020 after almost 30 years as an educator but did not stay retired for long.

As soon as she learned of a position at Swicegood, she applied and was hired. It was two years ago.

“I was off one summer and went back to work. It’s funny. I’m surrounded by music all day,” Rodgers said, gesturing with his arms, noting the wall of music.

She lowered her voice to a more serious note.

“And I have a lot of respect for Kurt because he’s doing this because he loves it,” she said. “He does it to support schools and music in schools. I think that’s the most unique thing about this store, their love for schools and their support. »

Swicegood Music is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.