Part One - The Beginning
The Growling Sax LLC was established in April 2017 with the idea of being a music retailer. However, some of the brands that were considered required too much effort to promote, and were too expensive, which motivated founder Melvin Quinones to create his own brand of musical instruments instead.
As a former founder of a musician’s social network, he had established relationships with factories, customers, dealers, and even competitors in the industry, so the step of creating his own brand came very naturally to him as he had acquired all the necessary contacts and industry knowledge.
Melvin's studies in quality control engineering and 20+ years of IT experience came in handy while designing the instruments and structuring the company. He has adapted many of the strategies and ideas that made his former employers (Dell, HP, Microsoft, and Alienware) successful.
In 2019 he registered Victory Musical Instruments as a dba of The Growling Sax, LLC, and began developing his first trumpet model. He worked with virtuoso trumpeter Osvaldo Fleites who had played with such famous entertainers as Andrea Bocelli, Gloria Estefan, and Irakere, to develop the first professional trumpet model, which has been a great success and played by many professional trumpeters.
In January 2021, VMI was awarded the Music Inc. Magazine Editors’ Choice Award for NAMM for the Special Edition "Trumpet of Jesus,” designed by VMI artist and trumpeter Gerardo Rodriguez.
Today, VMI is endorsed by some of the top woodwind and brasswind musicians in the world, and you will find the instruments being played on important stages with artist such as Earth Wind and Fire, Tina Tuner, Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Mark Anthony, Jlo and Andrea Bocelli among others.
Part Two - The Transition
Mr. Quinones understood the musical instrument business and was confident that his company had great potential. Nevertheless, he was not looking for an overnight success. He understood that there was a learning process and, during the first three years, worked on the business part-time. He spent most of the time building infrastructure and organizing Salesforce, QuickBooks, and inventory software systems. He also spent many months developing a new series of saxophone instruments with different features and configurations that would attract different types of players, either classical, jazz, pop, or Latin music.
Considering that Mr. Quinones had a successful career as an engineer, he was not rushing the process to go full time. He took his time and wanted to do things right rather than fast.
During the NAMM (National Assoc. of Music Merchants) show 2019, Melvin had the opportunity to have breakfast with self-made billionaire Chuck Surrack, the founder and CEO of Sweetwater Sound, Inc. (Sweetwater.com), a $1.5 billion company. Chuck had already purchased a saxophone from Melvin, and he wanted to share his thoughts. Chuck challenged Melvin to think about making this move to Full-time. Chuck’s specific words were: “Melvin, knowing the quality of your product, your strong industry knowledge, and your apparent passion, I can guarantee that you will not fail.” During this meeting, Chuck also mentioned that Sweetwater would expand its portfolio by adding a new Band and Orchestra (B&O) retail division.
The transition to Full Time started in February 2020, without knowing the challenges to come, with Covid-19. Mr. Quinones had already announced his retirement from Information Technology. Immediately after, he was furloughed and could not qualify for any PPP loans since he had not paid himself from the music business. Melvin used some of his own 401k money to complete the development of his trumpets and trombones design, which prepared the path for a successful 2021. In 2021 Melvin Quinones continued working as a part-time engineer but spent a lot more time in the business. The previous year’s marketing strategy paid off as the product demand started increasing, and the trumpet models gained popularity as many top musicians were playing them. In June 2021, Sweetwater Sound officially opened the B&O department, which created even more demand for VMI products. As of November 2021, Mr. Quinones was able to complete the transition to Full-time to support sales and the needs of the business.