Central Music is a Florida corporation that began in 1958. It was founded by Les Trubey and its first location was opened on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida (explaining the name). The late 1950s through the early 1980s represent the peak of the home organ industry in the United States. In its beginning, Central Music represented the Wurlitzer brand of home organs and pianos for the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Shortly after its founding, Central Music also became the dealer for Rodgers Instruments to serve the musical needs of the area’s churches. One of the most popular organs found in churches and homes alike is the Rodgers organ.
Central Music enjoyed great success with Wurlitzer. Due to this early success, Central Music was faced with a need for a larger location. It was also at this time that Les Trubey and Nelson Newby of Illinois became acquainted. In 1973, Trubey built a new home for Central Music—a 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) building at 5175 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater, Florida 33760 (where Central Music still resides today). At the time, there were cow pastures on either side of the building. However, the area has grown up around Central Music with an international airport within 2 miles (3.2 km) and a new eight lane road in front of the building.
In 1977, due to health issues, Les Trubey decided to retire. Having developed a friendship over the years due to their mutual experience with Wurlitzer, Trubey approached Nelson Newby and offered him the company. In November 1977, Nelson Newby with his wife Sharon and son Timothy moved to Florida and became Central Music’s new owners.
At that time, Central Music had three locations throughout the Tampa Bay area. These locations not only offered new and used instruments for sale but were also locations where private lessons and group lessons were available. Around 1980, Wurlitzer began to struggle due to challenges from competition, a worsening economy and what was the beginning of the decline to the home organ industry. To compensate, Central Music took on a new brand in the musical instrument field, Yamaha. Yamaha, quickly rose to prominence in both the piano and (albeit declining) home organ industries, and Central Music became a Top-10 dealership for Yamaha in the United States.
In recognition of Central Music’s sales and customer service, company president Nelson Newby was nominated to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Board of Directors in 1984. The highlight of his tenure was as co-chairman of the committee that created NAMM University and as a workshop presenter in its inaugural season. NAMM University remains a major focus of the organization to this day.
Over the years, Central Music’s church organ division steadily became a larger and larger portion of the company’s revenues. In the mid-1980s, Central Music began to shift its attention away from home products, to focus on the needs of churches across a larger geographic area. Today Central Music serves Florida, Georgia and the Caribbean.
In 1992, Central Music’s success was noticed by Fratelli Ruffatti’s National Director for US Sales (and concert artist) Ted Alan Worth. Headquartered in Padua, Italy (26 miles from Venice), Fratelli Ruffatti is the largest European supplier of pipe organs to the United States. Upon meeting, the Newby family and Mr. Worth quickly became friends and Central Music added Ruffatti to the list of fine musical instruments it offers.
At Central Music we believe that music is an essential part of life. We believe that the enrichment which comes from music has a lifelong impact, and we hold dear our customers who give us the opportunity to bring music into their lives.
Our mission at Central Music is to represent outstanding manufacturers in our industry and to then help music lovers find the ideal products for their needs and budget. We also believe that the sale is the beginning of our relationship with a buyer, rather than the end, and therefore we strive to provide the best service and education as well.
Our plan for achieving this mission is based upon the understanding that in taking good care of our customers, staff, and suppliers, in a manner we ourselves would want to be treated, our firm will continue to prosper and be the most logical choice for those who love music.
“Music embraces the whole person. It entrances the mind
and the heart, and its vibrations reach and touch the entire
physical body. Yet there is still something deeper in the way
that music pervades us. In contrast to every other art form,
it finds us out in more immediate and total ways.
The inrush of intimacy in music is irresistible.
It takes you – before you can halt it.
It is as though music reaches that subtle threshold within us
where the soul dovetails with the divine.”
~ Rev. John F. O’Donohue
Central Music Staff