|Music – Hormuz’s tool to help the community
Loud & Clear owner uses various methods to be able to help nonprofits close to his heart
Neville Hormuz runs his business, Loud & Clear, with lessons from his past and the futures of him and his employees in mind. He has turned the former Zone Music, which went out of business after 30 years in Cotati, into a successful ever-growing source of entertainment. He also uses it as a vehicle for community involvement, earning him a nomination at the first annual Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati Dinner and Awards Banquet last month with his representation of “service above self.”
Hormuz began working at Zone Music in 1996, when it was then owned by Frank Hayhurst since the 80s. When they could no longer afford to stay open in 2010, Hormuz adopted the shop with three other employees, hoping to gain back the workers they had lost and pay off the shop’s debt.
More fun to build than shrink
“In the last three years we were just laying people off to keep it viable. It’s really like cutting off family; it was a big point for me to rehire when I could,” Hormuz says of the revival. “It’s a lot more fun building a business then it is to have to shrink one down.”
Currently Loud & Clear is half music store, half sound installation; they’ve not only built the sound system in Redwood Café, helping the eatery with their late night entertainment, but also installed the system in Rohnert Park City Hall. They’ve just signed a new five-year lease and are working on knocking down a few walls to expand the inside of the shop.
Hormuz speaks of the importance of creating positive energy, an ideal he has spread beyond his employees and patrons and into the nonprofit community as well, benefiting the Sonoma County Humane Society, the Bird Rescue Center and local schools as well.
D’Addario, a well-known string manufacturer, donates a bunch of guitar strings. Loud & Clear then invites customers to get their guitar restrung for $10 and donates every penny to a different charity every month. They raise $300-500 a month and invite the benefiting charity to their store. The Humane Society once set up a Chihuahua “kissing booth” and the Bird Rescue Center has brought over owls and hawks to visit. This month they are donating to Petaluma-based Point Blue Conservation Science.
A vehicle to help those around him
“I never felt like I could be one of those people who could give to charity that much,” Hormuz says. “I’ve never been flush enough to do that with my own money, but this business is a vehicle to be able to provide to the community.”
“My staff and I, we all pick the nonprofits that are close to our hearts, and this is a way to help out a cause that is close to our hearts. We’re really big on kids and animals,” he jokes.
Every May, they host a flea market in the Loud & Clear courtyard. With a $25 donation, locals are welcome to sell their used instruments and equipment. Last month, they brought in more than $500 for Thomas Page Academy.
Band Camp is another wildly popular community outlet, an idea inspired by Hormuz’s friend, Mark Benanti. Being a musician is a huge commitment and many of those who have a passion to play cannot afford to quit their day jobs. Band Camp gives those of all playing levels a chance to practice with other musicians. They then rehearse for two hours a week and perform at Redwood Café the first Tuesday of the month. Four or five bands perform a month and they usually draw in a crowd of 50 or more to the café.
The community connection
“There’s a serious community connection,” says Hormuz. “It’s one thing to see someone come in the shop and buy a guitar or a set of strings, but to see them playing and having fun is a completely different experience.”
Hormuz also strives to be a good neighbor to his fellow Cotati businesses; he is currently working on his days off to build a double wall with acoustical material between Loud & Clear and Hub Cyclery, so that Band Camp practices do not disturb their new neighbors.
“I really try to run this place with everybody’s input,” Hormuz says, speaking volumes of his staff. “I definitely appreciate everyone who works here and I accept their guidance and advice. I trust everybody. We’re all on the same page.”
Hormuz has kept the spirit of Zone Music alive along with providing Cotati with a healthy, growing business that will be around for years to come and continue to be a resonating source of community involvement.