The electronic musical instrument industry peaked around 1979/80 when it was a dynamic and vibrant enterprise, but went into a steady decline from then on.
During the preceding decade Bill Greenhill was working for the Thomas Organ Corporation, a subsidiary of Whirlpool. The Board at Whirlpool on advice from their financial advisers decided to withdraw from the market, and Thomas was closed. This was the first of a long list of closures of major manufacturers from this period onwards, as other closures quickly followed, Lowrey, Hammond, Conn, Kimball, Gulbransen - we all know this list to be almost total now.
On the closure of Thomas, and being unable to find and interest a company to buy the stocks of Thomas parts, Bill Greenhill entered into an agreement with Whirlpool to purchase all parts stocks and to maintain customer warranty obligations to the full. Thomas had customer warranty obligations which were valid for 5 years on many instruments.
‘Thomas Spares’ was started in 1980 and proved to be successful with technicians and customers alike. Every known warranty repair was fulfilled and no customers were ever disadvantaged.
As the industry declined, and both manufacturers and retailers alike closed, several small companies were established, just as Thomas Spares, usually by the resident Service Manager, with the stock of parts. Lowrey and Wurlitzer were good examples.
These operations soon found that they could not cover their overheads, and one by one they closed.
Thomas Spares did continue, probably the only one, and as others closed, enquiries were being made on Thomas Spares to source and provide parts for most brands. Often a parts stockist who was closing contacted Thomas Spares and their stocks were purchased and incorporated into existing stocks.
Parts stocks were also being expanded to meet the extra demand, as was the library of manuals.
The name of Thomas Spares was changed to W D Greenhill Ltd, to reflect the vastly expanded support being provided for all manufacturers in this niche market, primarily (but not solely) consisting of organs – keyboards – electronic pianos – accordions.
The current stock levels are large and very varied, and whilst we would like to prepare catalogues and other literature, time and costs preclude this. We have many parts for organs reaching back to the 60’s.
We are trying to expand and enlarge our Web site, which will be dependant on the time available for this.
We are unable to identify a larger or more varied stock of parts for this market, anywhere in Europe.
Our library, which comprises of over 5000 manuals, covers models from over 100 manufacturers.
The name was changed from ‘Ltd’ to ‘& Co’ several years ago, as the regulations and administration requirements demanded by the Government on Limited Companies became too onerous and expensive for a small company to justify or support.
We welcome all enquiries for parts or help, when we will do all we can to supply the parts or advice.
Sadly Bill Greenhill Passed away after a short illness in January 2013, the Company still continues in his name by his son Nigel.
W D Greenhill & Co