microphoneWhile some might call Randy Lanier of Lanier Music a workhourse, he’ll tell you he hasn’t worked a day in over 17 years.  Sandwiched between the glow of New Orleans and the rural farming communities that line the Louisiana countryside is the bedroom community of Mandeville.  It’s here that Randy Lanier has run a successful music store for over 17 years.

He built Lanier Music from the bottom up-literally, board by board.  Despite the challenges this area of the country has endured over the past few years, you’d never know it by looking at Lanier Music.

“Just about two years ago, we tripled in size to 9,000 square feet, ” he says. ” We added on a rental bay and put in 2,500 square feet of lessons space.  Right now, I have 110 students a week taking lessons, and I’ve rented out over 600 horns.”

“I’d say over the past three-month period we’ve done a tremendous amount of business, and we already have stuff on layaway for the holidays. We’ve kind of been kickin’***!”

Randy’s current success is a far cry from his humble beginnings. He grew up on a Louisiana dairy farm, one of eight kids. ” We worked every day from can to can’t, getting up at four in the morning to milk the cows. We went to school, then did it all again. Then my dad died and we hit hard financial times.”

Growing up, Randy did what he could to help his family, while dreaming a few dreams of his own along the way. After learning the drums, he hoped to play in a band someday.  He reached that goal and then, while working at a music store in college, decided he wanted to open one of his own when he settled down. He made that dream come true too.  Applying the work ethic he grew up with to his new business may have helped him to prosper, but to Randy, it’s always felt more like play.

“I haven’t gone to work in 15 years,” he says.  ”Every day I get to help people on a musical journey.”  In addition to long hours and hard work, Randy also credits his store’s success to offering unparalleled customer service.

“Take it to 11? We start at 11!” he says with a laugh.  ”It’s a million little things that we do. It’s loaning a guitar or amp for someone to try out on a gig. Helping a church out with a speaker in a bind.  Helping people beyond their expectation.”

Randy also loves a challenge. ” Customers that others run away from, I run toward. I like the satisfied customers, but I really love the ones that you just can’t satisfy. I’ve only had two irate customers since I opened and they both left with smile on their faces.

“We can’t affect the economy but we can help people in this store. And by doing so, I don’t have to worry about advertising because those customers do the advertising for me. People come in and say, ‘Hey we hear you can help us.’  I treat people better than I expect to be treated and it just paus off exponentially.”

Randy is also determined to give back. After Hurricane Katrina, a family came into his store that had lost everything, yet still had an amazing attitude.

“We were talking when the father says to his wife, ‘Look, honey,’ and points to their son playing one of our guitars. The boy looked happy.  She teared up and told me that he hadn’t smiled since the storm three weeks before.  The dad asked how much the guitar was, and I said it wasn’t for sale.  ’Why not?’ he asked. ‘Beacause it’s already his,’ I told him.

“That’s the best thing about being the owner: I have the luxury of doing that.  That family told tons of people about that, but I didn’t do it for promotion. I did it becuase it was right.”

When aked for any advice on succeeding in these challenging economic times, Randy answers without hesitation.  ”There’s about 50,000 ways to go out of business and only one way to stay in business: Work hard!”