The Profit

Why even Lady Gaga's business couldn't help these brothers turn a profit

How The Profit’s Marcus Lemonis saved this drum maker’s business by ending a family feud
How The Profit’s Marcus Lemonis saved this drum maker’s business by ending a family feud

You'd think a musical instrument company that boasts deep-pocketed clients like Lady Gaga and Imagine Dragons would be raking in profit. But that wasn't always the case for Massachusetts-based SJC Custom Drums. What started out in 2000 as a hobby for brothers Mike and Scott Ciprari, who built these drum sets in their grandmother's basement, blossomed into a proper business -- one beset by creative differences and a damaging familial feud.

Though SJC enjoyed an enviable credibility within the music industry, it struggled to stay in the black and fulfill orders, leading to a rift between the brothers that saw Scott walk away from the business he co-founded. The company was in such dire straits that, in 2014, it eventually sought out Marcus Lemonis for a much-needed helping hand. Now, Mike says that, post-The Profit, his business has changed "180 degrees" … for the better.

When SJC first appeared on The Profit, the company was mired in chaos: it was inefficient and lacked the sort of scalable production process that could meet demand for its custom drums. It was also sorely missing a more budget-focused product line. But the most distressing rupture Marcus discovered had nothing to do with drums and everything to do with the Ciprari's lack of brotherly love. To truly fix SJC, Marcus had to first mend the nearly destroyed bond between Mike and Scott.

Before their brotherly break-up, the company structure was split 50/50, with Mike running SJC's business matters and Scott handling more creative issues, like the actual production and innovation of drums. Over time, however, Scott began to feel Mike had turned the staff against him, or as he put it "formed a mutiny," essentially forcing him to accept a buyout.

But thanks to Marcus taking 100-percent charge of things (and acting, against his protestations, as a sort of 'Oprah for business'), SJC managed a dramatic turnaround that saw Scott taking creative control once again; the introduction of a broader product line; and the Ciprari family bond restored.

Marcus installed a "10 steps to success" restructuring of the warehouse with specific manufacturing stations to control quality and inventory, while also upgrading the warehouse's equipment. He had the team create three distinct drum kits that followed a "good, better, best" price point system to cater to all consumer budgets. But his biggest success? Bringing Scott back into the fold to help create a new low-price point drum kit.

Since these changes were set in place, SJC employees have nothing but high praise for Marcus' welcome meddling. They've been able to staff up, carry more inventory and hone a tighter production process. And, crucially, turnaround time for a custom kit has now been reduced from one year to one month! Best of all, even though Scott's no longer involved in the day-to-day of SJC, he and Mike are back to being a family. So it's fair to say the beat goes on for both Ciprari brothers ... and SJC.