Meet Gard Scholarship winner Brandon Eckroth, a class of 2017 entrepreneurship major at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he’ll be the third generation of Eckroths to help run and manage his family’s business, Eckroth Music, one of the most successful music retail chains in the Midwest.
NAMM established The William R. Gard Memorial Scholarship to encourage students to pursue education and careers in the music products industry. Named for former NAMM Executive Vice President, William R. Gard, the scholarship is available to NAMM member employees attending college full time.
What are your goals for working in the music products industry?
“My main goal for working in the industry is to get kids involved in music. So many schools are cutting music programs, leaving kids with no direct opportunity to pursue the art. My main goal is to make sure as many children as possible have the ability to pursue music.”
How has being a Gard Scholarship winner helped you to fund your education?
“The scholarship helps to cover the cost of many of my courses, alleviating some of the financial stresses of college, leaving more time and energy for me to pursue my love for the arts.”
Did you always know you wanted to stay in the family business?
“For a while, I couldn’t really envision taking over the family business, but as I grew older my passions shifted, resulting in my desire to continue the company into the next generation.”
What role do you currently play in the business?
“I’m currently a sales rep, selling instruments and accessories, but also work on the rental side of the business a lot.”
Do you think doing business now is easier or harder than it was 20 years ago?
“Technology has made certain tasks easier, allowing us to focus more on things that make this business more unique and desirable.”
What aspect of the business interests you most?
“I’m most interested in keeping music in peoples’ lives. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a child pick up an instrument for the first time with eyes wide and heart full.”
Do you have a business mentor or role model? Who?
“I’d have to say my father, Jeff Eckroth.”
Do you think your approach to business will be different than your parents?
“It will be different to an extent. One thing that won’t change is we’ll do everything we can to keep music alive in schools.”
To learn more about the Gard Scholarship and view other Gard Scholarship Recipients, visit nammfoundation.org.