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Meet Pepper: Pennsylvania

Greetings from Paoli, Pennsylvania!  If you’re thinking “Where the heck is Paoli?”, we’re about 25 miles west of Philadelphia and 25 miles north of Wilmington, Delaware.  We are a Regional Marketing Center housed in the J.W. Pepper corporate headquarters.  We benefit from the added musical talents and expertise of many corporate employees with whom we exchange thoughts and ideas.

What truly makes our job rewarding is the diverse group of musicians that visit us.  Recent college graduates come to browse music alongside loyal customers who have been coming here for years.  They’re the old pros, the ones who used to shop in the original Pepper store that was located in downtown Philadelphia.  Some remember the location in Valley Forge on Trooper Road.  And others recall when we moved to our current location and installed a conveyor belt almost the entire length of the building!

It’s nice to see composers and customers come together as we host various events and workshops here in the store every so often.  Many district music departments spend their in-service days meeting, researching and shopping in our reference center.  We also offer a presentation about copyright that many groups find informative.  If it is the first time they’ve been here, we enjoy showing them our collection of antique instruments made by J.W. Pepper earlier in the company’s history. Whether it’s a group or an individual, a first-time or returning customer, we welcome anyone to visit and spend time with us.

We have a staff of five, with years of experience and diverse musical backgrounds, that will greet you in the Pennsylvania Regional Marketing Center.  Hans van Mol is newest amongst our ranks, coming to us in 2011.  Hans attended West Chester University, just down the road, as a music education major.  He plays clarinet and has sung in choirs.  In the fall he is on the staff of a high school marching band and he enjoys following politics.  Clara Thorne and Jason Nackord joined the Pepper team in 2005.  Clara studied music and holds two degrees in vocal performance.  She sings professionally and also enjoys community choirs.  Jason splits his free time between drumming and karate.  His family owns and operates a local karate school where Jason, who has studied the martial art for almost his whole life, teaches kids’ classes.  Celebrating 30 years with Pepper, George Class is the company historian and enjoys sharing memories with our customers.  George is a seasoned percussionist and plays with church and community groups.  The glue that holds  us together is our branch manager, Denise Collins.  A transplant from the Midwest, Denise has been involved in instrumental and vocal music for years both as a performing jazz musician and as a school music teacher prior to coming to work for Pepper.  During her 10 years with Pepper, she’s held positions as Operations Manager in our Chicago branch and Accounts Receivable Manager in the corporate office.  In her free time, Denise is active in her church music ministry and takes care of two Himalayan kittens.

There’s a lot of territory to cover (12 mid-Atlantic and New England states!) and many people to get to know.  The five of us work well together as we learn and try new things to better serve our customers.  Come visit us! We look forward to seeing you!

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Jen Tolnay
Jen Tolnay has been working for J.W. Pepper since 1991. She previously worked in customer service, and now spends her time on Pepper’s social media efforts. Jen has a degree in music theory from Temple University, and spent many years as musical director and accompanist for a variety of musical theatre productions She also works as the choir director/pianist/organist at a local church.

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