A music instrument manufacturer aims to make its new space in Surrey a hub for music-related events.
Roland Canada’s “inspiration centre,” located in the two-year-old Coast Capital Saving building, serves as the company’s national headquarters and also a studio of sorts.
The space, recently renovated and launched with a “Summer Solstice” industry party and open house on Thursday, June 21, will be used for songwriter circles and other special events.
The company recently went with third-party distribution, meaning warehouses are no longer needed.
“Because of that, we wanted to get a bit more urban with our offices, so we could set up showrooms and invite the public in, to learn more from customers,” said Brian Dupas, president and CEO of Roland Canada, on a tour of the 5,000-square-foot space in Surrey City Centre.
The Canadian “Sales Unit,” or SU, of Japan-based Roland International moved to the second floor of 9900 King George Boulevard from a more traditional office/warehouse complex in Richmond.
The company makes keyboards, synthesizers, drum machines, guitar effects pedals, recording systems and other products.
“Our company likes to do what we call DRM, direct response marketing, and that’s about talking to the end customers, because we manufacture products that we sell to music retailers and big-box stores,” Dupas said. “But a lot of things happen from customer feedback, whether it’s their experience with a product or just ideas from them – you know, ‘Roland should build this thing,’ right. So we wanted to have more spaces where we could talk to customers and do things.”
Roland has a similar space in Toronto, said Dupas, who lives in North Delta.
“We’re right on King Street there, and we get lots of musicians, right in the heart of that community there,” he said. “The Arkells, the band, were there the other day, just hanging out. It’s an artist hang – put on one of their records and drink some coffee, that kind of thing, and we hope to do that here.
“The difference here is we’re not downtown (Vancouver), and we wanted to be in Yaletown but the price of real estate is too expensive, so we chose Surrey, on the Skytrain route and next to the (King George) station, you know, and so if people want to get to us, it’s easy,” Dupas added.
The Surrey space will host “one event a week, minimum,” he noted.
“Maybe that’ll be a songwriters circle, like they do in Toronto, and every second week we do something called Drone Club, and it’s all these analog synthesizer guys who come in, bring their gear and we let them set up from seven til midnight, and everyone gets playing analog synthesizers — this drone music that gets going and they keep adding to it, for four hours.”
The “inspiration centre” is wired for live-streaming, he explained, with six cameras available.
“If a band shows up and some music is played, we can record it all, easy, and live-stream it, everything’s ready to go. It’s there if we want to go live,” Dupas said.
“A songwriters circle, a club, is something a lot of people want to do, but just don’t have a venue for it,” he added. “In Toronto, (some known musicians) have come in, and just musicians who make it spontaneous, so that’s really cool. And corporate drum circles, that’s what we do there too, where we invite companies to come in – we call them white-collar warriors, so we’ll do that kind of stuff here too.”
The space will also play host to “dealer training” sessions, with retailers invited to learn more about Roland’s new products.
Local musician Sami Ghawi was at the open house on June 21, and liked what he saw.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Ghawi, director of FUSIONpresents, said as he sat at a keyboard. “I think that it’s wonderful for Surrey to have an inspiration studio here, in our effort with the Surrey Board of Trade to make Surrey a music city, so it’s wonderful. Anybody can come in to try out any of the equipment, and Roland is leading the pack in whatever it does, so it’s awesome.”
Dupas says the company spent close to two years finding the right place to move from Richmond.
“We love this space and we got in here early, with our own private patio where we can do events and hang out, so that’s cool,” Dupas added. “There are 900 Coast Capital people in this building, so we’re meeting them and making connections. A lot of them are non-musicians but they’re interested in what we do, and we sell a lot of products to non-musicians as well, beat-boxes and things like that, to people who want to be musicians but they don’t know how to play drums or piano, instruments like that, so we’re getting a lot of that traffic down here.”