‘Under the Spotlight’ with Dawkes Music

What are the origins of Dawkes Music and when was it established?

Jack Dawkes, grandfather of the current owners, founded Dawkes Music & Windcraft Ltd in 1966. After leaving the military in 1946 Jack worked as a professional musician in London. His playing, arranging, recording, and broadcasting got him well known on ‘the scene’.

However, his earlier war service caught up with him and led to the deterioration of his hearing. Wishing to remain involved with music, he took the opportunity to learn the art of repairing instruments from renowned woodwind genius Ted Planas. Jack established a workshop in his garage and soon built up a fine reputation for repair work amongst his circle of musician friends. Gradually word of Jack’s work reached the Royal Air Force Central band and orders to refurbish their instruments began to arrive.

Throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, Jack and his son Lindsay grew the business steadily over several years. In 2000 we moved to our current home, an 8,000sq ft retail premises in the Reform Road Industrial Estate, Maidenhead.


How long have you been working for the company?

I joined in August 2000, just after the move into the current premises. I originally joined as a Repair Technician having previously completed some initial training in Woodwind Repairs. Although I was only 18 at the time, I’d been involved in my parents’ music shop in Manchester for several years learning how the business worked.

After a couple of years in the Dawkes workshop, I spent more time in the Retail Sales team where I went on to become the Shop Manager. It was fun but demanding to be looking after the sales team and stock procurement on such a large scale. From around 2015 I moved more into the Marketing & Web side of the business which has been a key area of our development recently.


What is Dawkes’ unique selling point?

I believe we have a number but then it wouldn’t strictly be a unique selling point! As such if just choosing one I would say it’s our commitment to customer-service. I think most customers have generally bad or average experiences in most of the daily retail experiences they have (i.e. general shopping, not MI business related!). As such they appreciate being looked after correctly because it’s rare. We go to great lengths to make sure the customer is happy before, during and after a sale.

If I’m allowed another that I believe is unique to Dawkes it is our combined experience in Woodwind & Brass repairs. This allows us to choose, set-up, and sell the best instruments in the best condition. Customers get products that have been expertly prepared and thus play far better than straight out of the box products. It also helps us when diagnosing issues with instrument performance which essentially solves problems for players. Everyone likes to get a problem solved quickly and efficiently, and finding experts in any field these days is hard.

Are you having to work in different ways to maximise trade in the current conditions?

Yes, but that’s always been the case. Each generation has seen different challenges in retail. To some degree there are factors outside our control such as the cost of living, but a lot of our destiny is in our own hands.

Continuing to assess how customers want to interact and purchase is important, along with consistently providing excellent products and customer service. If you’re doing those things right and you have a good team, you have every chance of succeeding.

What do you see as your biggest challenges in the months ahead?

Again, there are controllable and uncontrollable situations in play. Internally the challenge is always on keeping great staff and finding more as we expand. Externally there have been supply issues originally starting with the Covid-19 situation, but also Brexit has proved to be challenging for extra admin and logistics. So, it’s trying to maintain good stock of the most popular lines without over-stocking or running short.

I think the cost-of-living situation will also start to kick in more and affect some peoples spending power so that will also be a challenge. We need to ensure there are affordable but good quality entry paths for new Woodwind & Brass players/parents.

What music are you listening to, and are you involved in any performing yourself?

I’m pretty eclectic in my listening choices, and always open to finding new music to listen to. I recently had a long weekend of driving and covered everything from Brahms to early 90’s West Coast Hip Hop. Although I’m primarily involved in Woodwind & Brass, I do appreciate all sorts of instrumental & electronic sounds. I used to play Sax regularly in Big Bands & Funk groups, but I rarely get chance these days primarily for time reasons.

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