(January 10, 2011) When Thomas Solich sits at a Kawai piano and dances his fingers across its keys, prancing between octaves and tickling every sharp and flat, an almost tangible energy surrounds him.
“This piano responds to me in the same way a Mercedes responds to you,” he said, letting his hands wander across the ebony and ivory, almost unable to sit still when he knows the instrument is in reach.
“This is like the most souped-up automobile. I love the car analogies, which is ironic because I don’t drive,” he said laughing. “You don’t want me on the road.”
Blind since birth, the Howland native has had to work harder than his sighted peers to acquire the skills he’s mastered as a concert pianist and successful businessman. He graduated from the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music in Berea in 2006 and bought The Music Place, now Solich Piano and Music Co. at 1315 Boardman-Canfield Road in Boardman.
“I knew I had to immediately get this place to have arms that reach … outside of this market,” said Solich, 26.
The company has flourished since, and Solich said he now does four to five times as much business as the previous owner did in the busiest years. It’s because he’s expanded the company from a Mahoning Valley operation. Solich Music is now the sole dealer of Kawai brand pianos in the Youngstown, Warren, Pittsburgh and Boston regions and recently sold the four pianos donated by Tony Lariccia to Canfield schools.
Next week, Solich will fly to Anaheim, Calif., where the company will receive a national award for midsized dealer of the year at the National Association of Music Merchants and Manufacturers annual trade show. There, he’ll also play more than 400 pianos from dealers around the world to select those he’ll sell back home.
In 2008 the company won an award as an “Emerging Business” in the Mahoning Valley Growth Awards through the Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Youngstown State University Williamson School of Business
“There were a lot of naysayers … people who said you’re going to fail,” Solich recalled when he first bought his business, but the work ethic he’d acquired as a young pianist served him well.
[Excerpt from The Vindicator]