Cascio Interstate Music is a successful growing organization providing musical instruments and accessories to music educators, music students and music lovers worldwide. We are committed to furthering of the art of music for the benefit of humankind. Our existence and success depend upon the loyalty of our customers, the dedication of our employees and the love of music. To this end, we will:
- Provide the finest customer service and the greatest value.
- Offer our employees freedom to be creative and opportunity to be successful in an environment that fosters growth.
- Develop partnerships with vendors who share our vision.
- Demand the highest standards of quality and integrity in all our relationships.
Cascio Interstate Music Celebrates 70 Years in the Music Business
Cascio Interstate Music, a key national player in the music products industry through its multi-channel retail, wholesale and manufacturing operations, has its roots in post-WWII Milwaukee, when the son of Italian immigrants decided to make his dream come true.
In the early 1900's, Rosario and Concetta Cascio emigrated to the United States, bringing with them a love of the music from their native Sicily. They opened a neighborhood grocery store in Milwaukee. In 1937, Rosario Cascio passed away, leaving 16 year-old son Frank Salvatore Cascio to run the business. Frank discovered a passion for music by playing an old piano in the back room of the store. He eventually mastered the accordion and played live on local radio stations.
After completing his service as a corpsman in the U.S. Army in the Philippines, Frank and his wife Marcie founded Cascio Music Company in 1946, opening a small teaching and accordion studio with "$500 and a dream" on Beloit Road in West Milwaukee, called the West Milwaukee Accordion School. Besides giving lessons and selling accordions, the store also carried Motorola televisions and radios.
In 1951, Frank S. Cascio turned down a chance to join the famous Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and instead built a larger, brand new Cascio Music store on Lincoln Avenue in nearby West Allis. Frank and Marcie's son Michael was also born in 1951. The Lincoln Avenue store prospered with the addition of sheet music and lessons. A normal week would see as many as 600 music lessons given by a staff of 40 instructors, with the accordion being the most popular. In the 1960's, a decade that saw the coming of the British invasion and a dramatic cultural explosion of revolutionary musical artistry, Cascio Music grew and adapted to meet the changing musical landscape.
A mail order division, Interstate Music Supply, began in 1970, initially with a small flyer to service regional school band directors in the far corners of Wisconsin, but which eventually grew into larger catalogs that today continue to serve band directors and the military across the nation.
In 1973, a second location, Cascio Music-West, was added in the rural New Berlin suburb of Milwaukee, to house Interstate Music Supply and a small retail outlet to mostly handle instrument rentals. The New Berlin store grew and eventually replaced the Lincoln Avenue store, which closed in 1976. Shortly after, Frank sold the sheet music side of the business to Eric and Trudy Metz, and Metz's Sheet Music World rented space inside Cascio Music, until Eric's death in 1996 (Metz's was then acquired in 1998 and incorporated into the store's operations).
The mail order side sustained major growth during the 1990's, with the birth of the Interstate Musician Drum Catalog in 1993, followed by Guitar / Bass and Keyboard / MIDI Catalogs, which eventually combined into a single catalog but have since been discontinued. The school music catalog for band directors continued as well. A warehouse was added to the back of the store to handle this growing mail order business.
The Cascio Music retail store gradually absorbed adjacent businesses to expand its operational and floor space. A major remodeling of 1997 to 1998 almost doubled the retail floor space, to 30,000 square feet. The warehouse in the back of the store was moved to a much larger 46,000 square foot facility in Waukesha. The warehouse's removal in New Berlin allowed for the greatest retail expansion in the Drums, Guitar, and PA departments, including a separate acoustic guitar "cabin," a cymbal room, plus separate wind instrument tryout rooms. This true SuperStore environment helped Cascio Interstate remain competitive in the musical marketplace.
In 1997, Frank S. Cascio passed away at age 76, leaving the company in the hands of his son Mike and the trusted employees of his inspiring musical journey. Additional store locations had also opened in the Milwaukee suburbs of Mequon and Hartland, but were subsequently closed in 2003 to allow for slower, smarter growth. In 2000 www.interstatemusic.com was born, eventually turning into a full e-commerce website over the next decade.
Preparing and guiding the company for the future, Mike Cascio formed an advisory board in 2003 where he met Michael R. Houser, a retired Vice Chairman, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Fresh Brands, Inc. Houser also served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Milwaukee's World Festivals, Inc. who operates and manages Summerfest, the World's Largest Music Festival. The two found common ground in their mutual love of music and the musicians who make it.
Michael Houser was then named Chief Executive Officer / Chief Marketing Officer of Cascio Interstate Music in 2004. Board Chairman Mike Cascio pursued Houser because he wanted somebody with a new perspective who would take some of the day-to-day duties of running the business out of his hands, and stated, "within his passion for music, he has an incredible marketing passion." Elwood Winn, former President and CEO at Fresh Brands, joined the Cascio team in 2005 as its Chief Financial Officer, also helping to shape the future strategic direction for Cascio Interstate Music. These three Executive Committee Officers comprise the Company's complete operational leadership.
Michael Houser is the marketing brains behind Cascio's three proprietary musical instrument brands, Union Drums, Archer Guitars and Ravel Band Instruments, introducing them to new markets via non-traditional retailers, along with obtaining and expanding artist endorsements, including stage and studio performers Todd Rundgren, Kasim Sulton and Josh Rouse.
Today, Cascio Interstate Music ranks as the 14th largest musical instrument dealer in the United States. Two mail order catalogs are produced, entirely in-house; a 384-page edition for the educational market nationwide, twice per year; and a large catalog for drummers, twice per year.
The extensive e-commerce site at www.interstatemusic.com is maintained and marketed through the catalogs, plus continuing promotions and weekly e-mail newsletters, as well as marketing via the major social-networking and viral sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
The retail location is a true musical instrument superstore, offering large display areas for band and orchestra instruments, drums and percussion, recording technology and keyboards, guitars and basses, sheet music and books / DVDs, plus fine acoustic upright and grand pianos, as well as offering lessons, school instrument rentals and a full repair service for instruments from brass to strings to electronics.
Additionally, Cascio Interstate Music is very involved in southeastern Wisconsin's musical community, offering free in-store educational / performance clinics with well-known musicians at the store, plus implementing its own Band of the Month program to highlight exceptional local musicians, as well as a partnership with the NBA Milwaukee Bucks in sponsoring their Bucks Beats Drumline. Cascio Interstate Music also maintains relationships with the Stefanie H Weill Center for the Performing Arts, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Record.