|Roger Kraft performs as a keyboard player, organist, and trumpeter in multiple bands and as a solo act. He's always ahead of the curve, pushing the limits of the organ and synthesizer products available at the time. He even created a custom organ in '78, that included the guts of a Hammond B3, a Moog Satellite, Minimoog, and an ARP String Ensemble. This creation later surfaces in 1999 as Keyboard Magazine's featured "Keyboard of the month."|
Roger's interest in music and technology takes him into music retail, as he sees a need for a focused store that displayed all of the latest gear. Kraft Keyboards is incorporated, serving musicians seeking analog, digital, hi-tech synthesizers, keyboards, recording gear, and the newly created computer-music category of products. The store is a "store-within-a-store" located in West Allis, WI, inside Ralph Hanzel Music.
Kraft Keyboards becomes one of the first Kurzweil dealers, a charter Hosa cable dealer, was exclusive in Milwaukee with Emu, Oberheim, Linn, Ensoniq. Other brands that were represented were Roland, Moog, Alesis, Korg, Tascam, Fostex, Ramsa, Crumar, Synergy, Akai, and Kawai.
|The "Keyboard Center" at Ralph Hanzel Music is the beginning of Kraft Music in 1984.|
|A view of the vintage store in 1984. Synthesizer aficionado's will recognize some classics!|
|Shorty after incorporating, Kraft Keyboards relocated to Milwaukee's Eastside, which quickly became THE technology store to visit in southeastern Wisconsin. Clients drove long distances to put their hands on new technology, such as the Emu Emulator, Ensoniq EPS, Roland D-50, and Korg M1, in addition to pioneering computer-based recording products such as MOTU Performer and others.|
|The Brady Street location was packed with gear and became a favorite stop for midwest musicians.|
|A second location was born on the west side of Milwaukee in Brookfield, WI. Its proximity away from the city was designed to be more convenient to customers residing on the outskirts of Milwaukee. At this same time, the East Side location was moved to a more central site in downtown Milwaukee.|
|Roger, along with partner Jason Klagstad, formed Big Music on the Milwaukee's north side. Big Music's mission was to carry products beyond keyboards and technology, and included acoustic and electric guitars, and acoustic and electronic drums.|
|Big's Grand Opening featured Nuno Bettencourt, the guitarist for 90's rock band Extreme.|
|Big Music was located in the former Tool King space in Milwaukee.|
|Big Music was sold to Jason Klagstad and a new partner, allowing Roger to focus on the technology product that he had a passion for. As the Internet was becoming more popular and "mainstream," Ben joined Kraft Keyboards on a part-time basis to begin serving musicians in remote locations.|
|Kraft's first website was born in 1995, and the name "Kraft Music" was eventually used to broaden the scope of what the company could be.|
|Web business grows and forces yet another move, as the small space could not handle the incoming and outgoing business. The first dedicated Kraft Music location is found in Brookfield, allowing for a retail space, office, and warehouse space. The smaller Kraft Keyboards downtown office is later closed and moved to Brookfield.|
|The Kraft Music logo proudly on the building in Brookfield. That logo was designed by Ben's roommate in college!|
|The first kraftmusic.com secure e-commerce site is created, and begins a decade of growth and expansion. Looks like this "internet" thing is here to stay!|
|The original kraftmusic.com web site, born in 2000.|
|Roger sells the business to Ben, and Kraft Music focuses on its e-commerce future.|
|Ben posing in the Kraft Music showroom after purchasing the business from Dad.|
|Once again, Kraft runs out of space and is forced to move. This time, a much larger facility than what was presently needed was built, allowing for much room for expansion. This location in Franklin, Wisconsin remains as Kraft Music's headquarters today.|
|Construction of the current Kraft Music headquarters began in 2006.|
|We moved into our new building in 2007.|
|Double-digit year over year gains, yet again, puts a squeeze on space. Kraft Music opens their first dedicated Distribution Center nearby in Franklin, greatly expanding the company's capabilities.|
Chris Lesnik, Warehouse Co-Manager, shows off our new 42,000 square foot distribution center before the installation of racking.
|The racking is installed, and the product rolls in. We're ready to serve our customers!|
Kraft Music expands its Franklin headquarters building to accommodate future growth.
|Over the past thirty years, Kraft Music has made it a priority to give back to our community. Most recently, Ben and Nikki Kraft donated (100) Yamaha guitars to a cause close to their heart, Guitars for Vets.|
|100 Yamaha FG700S guitars donated to Guitars for Vets. From left to right: Nikki Kraft, Patrick Nettasheim (G4V Founder), Ben Kraft, and Eric Weinstein (G4V Executive Director).|