Behind the Desk

Fred A. Fornwalt

Company: Fornwalt Piano Service and Sales

Address: 706 Chapel Drive, Altoona

Telephone number: 942-1489


Position: Owner

Years with company: 47

Family: Wife of 43 years and best friend of 50 years, Donna; and their miniature schnauzer, Teddi

What products or services does your company provide?

Ritmuller and Pearl River Pianos, Steinway (pre-owned) and Dampp Chaser Climate Control Systems. Total piano care: Full-service piano tuning, repair, rebuilding, case touch-up, appraisal, insurance restoration, etc. In 2006, Pearl River/Ritmuller was named a manufacturing partner by Steinway. I am extremely excited to offer such a high-quality piano at a very affordable price.

Who are your customers?

My customers are from beginner to concert pianists, as well as homes, schools, churches, universities and concert venues and anyone who owns a piano or has an interest in the piano. I want people to contact me before they buy a piano so that I can assist them in selecting the right piano for their musical needs and budget. Throughout the years, I have had the privilege to tune for Billy Joel, The Gaither Family Band, Paul Winter, Eugenia Zukerman, Ramsey Lewis, Stan Kenton, The Eagles and The Grateful Dead, but the greatest satisfaction comes from helping a young family get their children started on a lifelong musical journey.

What is your business day like?

My day usually starts with driving to a client’s house. I cover a 50-mile radius of Altoona. I meet with the client to assess his or her musical needs and the condition of their piano; I educate the client and determine a course of action, which usually involves tuning and possibly: regulation, voicing and climate-control issues. Sales are by appointment. Bookkeeping and scheduling are usually done evenings and weekends.

What is the best business advice you have received?

Your customer is your most important asset. Through continuing education and innovation, you must stay ahead of the curve as well as meet and exceed your customer’s needs and expectations.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned on the job?

Piano owners are great people. They understand that music enhances creativity and that it’s one of God’s greatest gifts to man.

What does the future hold?

God willing, many more years of helping others achieve their musical dreams, and to continue to be an integral part of the central Pennsylvania musical community.

What have you read lately that has influenced your business life?

Piano Action Regulating by Brian Capleton. He reminds us that musical outcome is the sole purpose behind technical adjustments, and that helping people reach their musical dreams should be our goal.

If you want your business to be featured in the Mirror’s Behind the Desk series, call 946-7467.