Browsing Tag

customer service


Meet Pepper: Southern California

November 27, 2012

When tourists visit southern California, their itinerary will more than likely include must-see sights and trips to Disneyland, Hollywood and one of the many beaches that typify Los Angeles.  However, there is growing speculation that making a trip to Pepper Southern California may be trending positively within that list, probably somewhere in between Rodeo Drive and any MTV celebrity home.

Kidding aside, J.W. Pepper has had a presence in southern California since the early 1980s, with previous locations in the cities of Gardena and Santa Fe Springs.  Currently, our store is located in the beautiful city of Norwalk, about 15 miles away from Disneyland and 25 minutes from the beach.  The store also functions as a Regional Marketing Center, where we proudly serve southern California, Arizona and Hawaii.

Our team realizes that when it comes to our customers and their expectations, the little things mean everything.  We make every effort possible to ensure that our customers leave our store knowing that they can always depend on Pepper for all of their sheet music needs.  Our staff of four provides a wide spectrum of services for our customers, including organizing and implementing annual choral workshops and copyright presentations.  Other times, we play host on district in-service days to assist neighboring school districts in choosing their curricula for the year.  For the most part, the store acts as a musical treasure vault, where amateur and professional musicians browse for hours looking for updates to their musical repertoire.

The newest addition to the team is Gloria Zurita, who joined Pepper in 2010.  Gloria is a former clarinet player with an appetite for writing and photography.  Her favorite musical activity at the moment is “listening to and dissecting Eric Whitacre chords” in her car while she sits in L.A. traffic. 

Kristina Real joined Pepper in late 2005.  She played the accordion early in her childhood, as well as percussion in the school band. She is a bona fide music aficionado of nearly every genre.  If a customer is unsure about a song title, once they start to sing a measure or two, Kristina will almost always successfully “name that tune.” 

Valdemar Zamora has been with Pepper for over 20 years.  A proud family man and keyboard player, he once toured professionally with a Mexican pop group.  Presently, he shares his talents with his local church worship group as their keyboardist.

The manager of J.W. Pepper SoCal is Pepper Vice President Sam DeRenzis.  Sam earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Gettysburg College.  His involvement with the industry spans over three decades, and he has been with Pepper for over 20 years.  He is an accomplished saxophone player and a passionate fan of Major League Baseball.

Feel free to stop by whenever you’re in the area.  We would love to see you!

Visit Pepper SoCal’s website.

Hang out with us on Facebook.

The Pepper Difference

Our National Customer Service Center

October 19, 2012

Ever wonder who’s on the other end of your phone call, email, fax, or mail order when you contact J.W. Pepper?  Ever wonder who staffs these areas for 12 ½ hours a day and 10 hours on Saturdays?  We are extremely fortunate to have many dedicated employees with a lot of experience, passion and drive to help you with your music needs.

When the department was created in the fall of 1981, most orders were placed through the mail, which was quickly enhanced by toll-free phone calls.  Now emails and web orders drive a large portion of our business.

The WATS (Wide Area Telephone Service) department years later became Service Assurance, which placed a stronger emphasis on customer service.  The current name, Customer Service Representatives (better known as CSR), handles all different types of customer orders, issues, and details.  No matter what the name, the focus has always remained the same:  to provide the best customer service experience possible.

Our staff members come into the department with solid musical education, music experience or customer service backgrounds.  With thirty-two people split between our Paoli, Pennsylvania and Grand Rapids, Michigan offices, we collectively have just shy of 300 total years’ worth of experience!  It takes eleven shifts and sixteen lunch periods to maximize their available time for customers.  At peak times of the year, employees from our national headquarters and Regional Marketing Centers provide additional support to manage the spikes in customer contact volume.

When you need us, we are available Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time at 1-800-345-6296.  However, reaching us 24/7 through,, voicemail or by fax at 1-800-260-1482 are always additional options.

In addition to total customer coverage, the department handles many different tasks, all relating to customer service.  We interface with customers through phone calls, mail, fax, voicemail, emails, web orders, technical support, library orders, Wingert-Jones Publishing and our latest venture,

So the next time you contact us, we hope this gives you a better picture of the diverse demands our customer service representatives are prepared to handle, all in the interest of serving you, our customer.



Meet Pepper: Northern California

October 16, 2012
Hi from the San Francisco Bay Area!  The J.W. Pepper Northern California store is located in sunny Dublin, California, about 40 miles east of San Francisco.  We moved to this spot in the spring of 2008 from our original Fremont location which opened in 2001.
  Pepper Northern California regional marketing center

Our staff has fun working together and that energy translates into a relaxed and happy store environment.  We’ve worked hard to make our store into a valuable resource for the music community, and in the process we’ve made good friends along the way.

Ryan Blauvelt, Regional Marketing Manager, has been with Pepper since 2007.  He has a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance from Long Beach State University.  Ryan loves playing live music gigs, sports, backpacking absurdly long distances, and exploring the sights, sounds, and tastes of San Francisco.

Ashli Montgomery, diehard San Francisco 49ers fan and lover of the outdoors, has a business management degree from San Francisco State and has worked for Pepper for 3½ years.  Recently engaged, she is looking forward to planning a wedding in the upcoming year!

Katie Waters has a degree in applied mathematics from Sacramento State and plays tenor sax in a Dixieland jazz group called the Jelly Jam Jazz Band.  She’s also a counselor at the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Youth Camp where she teaches kids about Dixieland music. 

David Song is our resident choral music expert and has a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Cal State Hayward.  He’s also our graphic design genius, creating impressive signs, postcards and posters for our events.  David’s dog Melo often comes to work and is considered the “office dog.”  


Pepper Northern California staff

Hosting live events, both inside and outside our store, is a large part our fun at work.  We hosted famed composer Frank Ticheli in February 2011 and Dr. Peter Boonshaft in August later that year.  On October 20 we will host Beth Peterson, author of The Music Teacher’s First Year, in a clinic targeted to college music students and new music teachers.  We also host an annual customer appreciation party. This year our outdoor courtyard provided excellent acoustics for our featured entertainment:  a jazz band made up of local high school students!

Working at “the Dublin branch” is a special experience.  Each of us brings unique qualities to the store and this combination of personalities makes a visit efficient and memorable!  We enjoy working on new projects that will result in bringing musicians together to exchange ideas and knowledge.  We are very proud of our store and would love for you to visit!

Visit Pepper NorCal’s website.

Hang out with us on Facebook.


Meet Pepper: Georgia

March 15, 2012

Pepper’s Atlanta location opened in 1966, and we settled into our current location in 2009.  We have the unique situation of being the only regional marketing center in the company to be physically attached to a distribution center.  Our customers, visiting college methods classes, and even open house attendees have enjoyed tours of the D.C.!

The Georgia team is made up of Amber Loper, Keith Guier, and Doug McComas, led by manager and Pepper Vice President Kenya Morgan.  We have over 30 years of “Pepperness” and over 75 years of musical experience between the four of us!  Two of us are Pepper catalog editors;  Doug works on the church choral catalog and Kenya works on the orchestra catalog.

Every Friday morning, the marketing staff gathers for a breakfast meeting.  This started in the late 1970s when Miss Kelly, a secretary in the original location, would bake biscuits and sausage for the small Pepper Atlanta staff on Friday mornings.  The tradition changed over the years — Hardee’s and Mrs. Winner’s replaced home-baked, and now with a more health-conscious staff, there’s more fresh fruit and turkey bacon than fried pork chops and sausage.  We all take turns bringing breakfast.

For over 15 years, our customers have enjoyed attending Joy of Singing, Joy of Worship and the John Jacobson workshops in the summer. When the sister choral event in Florida folded a few years ago, we began seeing many of those customers make the trip to Atlanta to continue the experience!  They continue to make the trip, and look forward to it annually.  We recently began the tradition of hosting an annual Editors’ Choice Live sacred reading session which features selections from the current year’s Editors’ Choice.  We invite a well-known clinician to read through the music — this event has grown over the last couple of years to be something that folks look forward to attending each year.

Our facility is off the beaten path in an industrial park near Sweetwater Creek State Park.  We’re surrounded by trees and bordered on one side by Sweetwater Creek, and about a mile from the Chattahoochee River.  Deer, wild turkeys, woodpeckers, hawks, turkey vultures, and kestrels are familiar sights just outside our doors… including a deer in the parking lot one night.

We have a quiet environment for directors to research to their heart’s content.  Hungry?  Our complimentary selection of snacks and beverages are available if you’re tucking in for a few hours of planning, or dashing in for a pickup order and just need a quick snack to take the edge off before getting back into traffic.  Feel free to come in and see us!

Visit Pepper Georgia’s website.

Hang out with us on Facebook.

The Pepper Difference

What Music Means to Us

October 7, 2010

Monday kicked off National Customer Service Week!  As part of showing our appreciation for the folks here who work hard every day to support you, we wanted you get to know them better.  We recently asked those of us in our customer service department to answer the question, “What does music mean to me?”   The responses showed music means a plethora of different things to different people, yet is a common language, regardless of whether or not a person is musically inclined.   Here are a few quotes from the staff:
Customer Service Department

“Music sees no stereotypes, generations, cultures or languages.”  — Jen

“Music brings me back to the center of my heart.”  — Sue

“Music brings the purest emotions to the surface.” — Angie

“Music is a happy and peaceful side of life.” — Mary

“Music has the power to change lives.”  — Nancee

“Music bridges the gaps that are otherwise left open.”  — Jenn

 So next time you are speaking with one of us on the phone, remember these are the thoughts we come to work with every day.  We have a real passion for music that inspires us to support you in your musical pursuits.

The Pepper Difference

My Friend from Texas

August 26, 2010
My Friend from Texas

My Friend from Texas

Back in 1995, a call to my phone began as many do, with an enthusiastic musician hunting for music for their next performance.  In this case, the musician was a sweet sixty-something gentleman named Clarence Cantini from Galveston, Texas.  Clarence and I immediately connected musically, with him tapping my opera experience as we searched for music he had heard that he felt would work well for his tenor voice.  After a while, I suggested he send me a copy of some of the CD track listings that interested him so I could continue the research.  Sounds like typical workday stuff, right?  But what follows is dear to me and I want to share it with you.

You see, once I was able to help Clarence find his music, he and I became pen pals of sorts.  He would send me lists of music he wanted to sing and I’d find it for him.  Over time, the notes he included with his lists revealed his life — his love of family and music.  He sent copies of his progams, which ranged from Michael Crawford hits to the classics.  He and his wife and I began exchanging Christmas cards, and when he would call the office, he would tell others to “just tell Cecelia it’s her friend from Texas.”  

In 2001 my travels took me back to my hometown of Beaumont, Texas where I sang at the Julie Rogers Theater for the Performing Arts.  Imagine my surprise when after the concert Clarence and his wife Sue stopped by to congratulate me.   They had traveled more than an hour to be there.  It was at this concert that they met my mother, who just loved them and also developed a close friendship.

So fast forward a few more Christmas cards to September of 2008.  Hurricane season.   Like everyone in the country, I watched video of the damage Hurricane Ike unleashed on Galveston.  I worried about my friends.   I tried to call them often, but got no answer.  Worse yet, no Christmas card came that December. 

Never being one to shy away from a challenge, I put Google to work!  I searched repeatedly for any listing about Clarence and Sue.  And, lo and behold!  I found a Texas newspaper listing a special birthday celebration for Clarence, complete with an address!  It was important I find them now, not only to know they were ok, but to let them know my mother, their friend, had passed away. 

I’ll never forget that day I called them.  They told me I was a ray of sunshine after all they had been through.  They had been forced out of their home by the hurricane and were suffering from ailments that sometimes come with age.  I cried a bit with relief to find they were ok.  After a bit, Clarence quietly told me he had lost something very precious in the storm — his music.  He didn’t know where to start to replace it.  That’s when I told him not to worry.  I had saved everything he ever sent me in a folder with his name on it.   We went through the list, and we started our musical adventure all over again. 

Since that time our connection has only deepened.  I still have my “Clarence” folder, which is pink, since that would indicate it’s from The Diva’s desk, and by now most of the papers are yellowed.  But I’m hanging on to this folder, looking forward to the next call from my friend from Texas.


Talk for more options

May 10, 2010
Customer Service

Customer Service

We’ve all had the unpleasant experience of being placed into an automated phone system for several minutes before actually reaching a live person.  You often enter a button-pushing maze designed to have the phone system figure out what your issue is, when all you want to do is simply talk to another human.  It’s way too common with businesses these days.  At Pepper, we look at calls a little differently.  We know we all have busy lives, and by no means should contacting your music store be a complicated experience.  We try to answer your call quickly, find the answers to your questions and get your order placed so you can get on with your day.  You don’t have to “listen for more options” unless you want to talk to us about other musical options available to you.  

Just last week, I was talking to a customer where we were trying to make good on a mistake we had made.  (It’s rare, but they do happen.)  It turns out the customer lived nearby our store, so I was able to meet them in person to exchange the music they needed.   I’m not telling you this out of personal pride, but because it indicates the kind of company culture we have here at Pepper.   We have a real passion for customer service, and we really do want to talk to you.  The only number you have to push “for more information” is 1-800-345-6296.