After six years of searching for a buyer, the building Wicks Organ Co. has called home for more than 100 years has been sold, and the Highland pipe organ maker is moving — but not far. They have relocated just across the street.
The new space is in the former location of Relevant Pregnancy Options Center at 416 Pine St. The location has renovated office space in the front and a large factory space in the back. After walking through the front doors, visitors will see Opus One, the first organ ever made by Wicks in 1906 — and for the record, it still works.
Company President Scott Wick said the reason for moving was the 80,000-square-foot factory became too big for the company’s 10 employees. Wick said the new space is great, and the company is looking forward to saving big on utilities while enjoying some air-conditioning for the first time in over a century.
“It will help us be more competitive in the future,” Wick said.
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While the company still makes organs, with the advent of digital music, demand for the large, customized instruments has dropped.
However, as the old saying goes, “When one door closes, another one opens.” And that could not be more true for Wicks, as the company has recently discovered a new market created by the opening and closing of churches across the country.
When a church equipped with a large pipe organ closes, that organ typically becomes available on the open market. However, moving an organ is a daunting task. The instruments have thousands of intricate connecting pieces and mechanisms. It takes an expert disassemble and remake them.
“It has kind of given us a new niche market,” Wick said.
Currently, the company is working on moving an organ from a church in Nebraska to one in Ohio. The process should take about two weeks, Wick said.
In the meantime, other employees have been working hard to move what they can from the old factory to the new location, which is stuffed to the gills with materials. Wick said they anticipate for the move to be complete and to have everything organized by December.
Wick said pieces of the company will linger in the old building, which has been purchased by the Frank Ostander, whose wife, Jennifer Ostrander, owns of Core Elite Tumble and Cheer. The Ostranders said they are planning to incorporate Wicks memorabilia into their new facility, into which they are moving their business. They also hope to create a large event venue in the former factory. Wick said he will be leasing a small room in the factory to be used as a showroom for completed organs and tours.
For now, Wick said the company is looking forward to a fresh start, but is still going strong as ever.
“We are still operating. We have never stopped, and we do some neat projects,” Wick said.
About the company
- Wicks Organ Co. company started with three brothers, a church and an organ.
- John, Louis and Adolph Wick, who were a watch maker, a cabinet maker and a jeweler, volunteered to make an organ for a local Catholic parish. After successfully crafting a small mechanical action instrument for the church, word spread about their work. Wicks became incorporated in 1908. The company soon began producing organs nationwide.
- In 1922, Wicks first patented the Direct- Electric action, an electric action that allowed organs to be one moving part with no perishable materials that could be arranged in any way. The first 13 years of building pneumatic and mechanical action instruments, the Wicks built 275 instruments. In the 15 years after inventing Direct- Electric action, the Wicks opus list grew to over 1000, and the first Wicks organ still plays today.
- Today, the third generation of the Wick family runs the business.
Source: Wicks Organ Co. website