Renner Joins the Growing Family of Steinway Musical Instruments’ Owned Suppliers
In July of this year, it was announced that John Paulson’s Steinway Musical Instruments had completed the purchase of Louis Renner GmbH & Co. KG. Renner is widely respected as one of the finest producers of piano action parts still in existence. Numerous makes of pianos, including Hamburg Steinways use Renner parts. Below is the Steinway & Sons announcement letter and below that are our thoughts on the issue.
STEINWAY & SONS ANNOUNCES THE ACQUISITION OF THE LOUIS RENNER COMPANY
ASTORIA, NY (July 29, 2019) — Steinway & Sons today announced the acquisition of Louis Renner GmbH & Co. KG, which manufactures complete grand and upright piano actions in addition to special piano parts, piano hammers, accessories, and piano tools. Louis Renner was founded in Stuttgart, Germany in 1882. Today, its headquarters and main factory are located in Gärtringen, Germany, near Stuttgart, with an additional factory in Meuselwitz near Leipzig. The company has been supplying action parts to Steinway for more than a century and Steinway is one of Renner’s largest customers.
This purchase is the latest in a number of strategic acquisitions that have taken place over the years to ensure continuity in vendor business as well as to ensure that the Steinway–caliber quality of key components is preserved and continuously improved upon. Important previous acquisitions include Kluge GmbH, the largest manufacturer of piano keys in Europe and The O.S. Kelly Company, the largest manufacturer of piano plates in the United States, each of which have supplied essential parts for Steinway’s pianos for more than half a century.
As Steinway & Sons has developed a reputation — earned over the course of 166 years — of building the world’s finest piano, Renner has similarly developed a reputation of building the world’s finest piano actions and action parts.
“When we heard that Renner was for sale, we took an immediate interest,” said Ron Losby, President & CEO, Steinway & Sons. “We wanted to ensure that Renner remains in Germany, where they have been for almost 140 years, and we wanted to ensure that they retain the world-class quality that they have achieved and maintained during that time. They produce crucial components of our Steinways, which is why this continuity is vital to our company. The mission and culture of both companies is so similar that I expect this to be a very smooth transition and a very natural fit.”
“We are delighted that we were purchased by a company with German roots and with one of their two worldwide factories located in Hamburg, Germany,” said Clemens von Arnim, CEO, Louis Renner. “I am very optimistic about this move and what it means for Renner’s future — and I am looking forward to staying on to run Renner and work closely with Steinway’s manufacturing team in Hamburg.”
Steinway & Sons plans to continue operations in Renner’s two German factories and to make the transition to Steinway ownership while ensuring “business as usual” for Renner and its employees.
Our Thoughts: Although sudden, it isn’t too surprising of a move. Steinway has long attempted to bring its suppliers under their own control. This includes the purchase of casting company O.S. Kelly and keyset maker Kluge. The important point is that historically, Steinway continues to operate these companies somewhat independently. Both O.S. Kelly and Kluge continue to provide their wares to other piano manufacturers. According to the press release, production at Renner’s German facilities will continue and little will change in regards to their overall operation.
The promised lack of radical change seems likely to hold true. Steinway & Sons pianos make up a small percentage of the instruments built every year that feature Renner action parts. In short, it seems very unlikely that Steinway Musical Instruments would torpedo their newly acquired business by ending its primary function as a provider of action components to other piano companies. The list of companies using Renner parts ranges from boutique brands such as Fazioli to very high volume producers like Pearl River.
A favorite partner of piano rebuilders and restorers, Renner, especially Renner USA, have worked hard over the past decades to create action parts that are specially designed to work well in vintage pianos, including golden era Steinways. Due to their good relationship with piano rebuilders, Renner parts are a regular sight in rebuilt and restored pianos. (Many of our restored Steinway pianos feature Renner hammers, wippens and more.) Again, it would seem highly unlikely that the new owners would want to shut off this source of regular and substantial revenue.
Moving over into ‘conspiracy’ mode, the purchase of another parts supplier lines up with the idea that some in the piano industry have proposed that John Paulson is attempting to raise the value of Steinway Musical Instruments. This would be in preparation for a sale to an overseas investor. So far, there is no real evidence to back up this rumor.
In conclusion, the purchase of Renner by Steinway Musical Instruments appears to change very little, at least for the venerable piano technician. If that changes, we should be among the first to know…
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