Tevis Laukat manages a global supply chain in pursuit of the perfect saxophone

By Rachelle Knight Child | Apr 12, 2016

On Strategy: Cannonball Musical Instruments


Sandy, Utah

Tevis Laukat, President, and his wife Sheryl Laukat, CEO of Cannonball Musical Instruments, started their company in 1996 and celebrated 20 years in March of this year.

Cannonball Musical Instruments manufactures a line of saxophones, trumpets, clarinets, and flutes which are sold internationally through brick and mortar dealers. Tevis and Sheryl are both skilled musicians with impressive professional resumes and degrees in music performance and music education, respectively. They started Cannonball in their kitchen, moving to the basement and then expanding from there.

Cannonball Musical Instruments currently has two manufacturing facilities in Taiwan, and they commission a manufacturing facility in the USA and in China to build instruments to Cannonball’s design. They also have a custom shop, finishing facility, sound stage, office, and warehouse in Sandy, Utah.

According to Tevis, “Sheryl and I both loved the saxophone, and started out experimenting with one in our kitchen, where we learned through trial and error how to alter the air flow and change the acoustical properties of the instrument. We knew we were really onto something when we could take a saxophone with inferior sound and pitch and turn it into instrument with better sound and pitch than the vintage saxophones we used in our professional careers. Eventually, we decided to mortgage our home and launch Cannonball Musical Instruments.”

Cannonball started out manufacturing a truly customized saxophone, and experienced such success that they soon expanded to manufacture trumpets, clarinets, and flutes.

“We plan to continue to grow as a company to including the manufacturing of trombones, baritones, tubas, and even French horns. Every instrument we manufacture overseas is finished in our facility in Sandy. Our employees in Sandy are musicians in their own right, and they take their time with every instrument to ensure that mechanically every aspect of the instrument is as perfect as possible. Then our customers have a range of customizations that are available to them,” says Tevis.

As part of the customization of each instrument, Cannonball has revived the lost art of hand engraving. “We can also customize our instruments with semi-precious stones to enhance the look and change the acoustics of our instruments. The semi-precious stones we use are mined mostly here in Utah but also in other parts of the world. The inputs we use to manufacture our instruments are also purchased from all over the world, including Japan and Italy. The biggest problem for us as a manufacturer with facilities half way across the world is to oversee the quality of the final product. We have searched the world to locate the best brass, pads, and other parts needed to make the best instrument possible.”

“Years ago, many musical instruments were manufactured here in the US. That has changed dramatically and I can only think of two factories located in the states at this time. But for us, the location of our manufacturing facilities was not a step to cut costs, but rather part of our overall strategy to gather the best inputs and skilled professionals from around the world.”

Rachelle Knight Child writes for CompanyWeek Utah and can be reached at leirachelle@comcast.net.