03 Jun Texas Amps & Axes: Strumming Up Success BY DEBORAH DOVE PHOTOS BY FLYHIPPIE PHOTOGRAPHY
Texas Amps & Axes’ growth has been faster than Jimi Hendrix’s fingers on a guitar, which is appropriate given owner Jon Meneley is a guitar rock star himself. A rhythm guitarist who seeps music from his pores, Jon tours with a local Dallas band when he’s not working at the music store and studio he opened with his wife and high school sweetheart, Iris, in January of 2016.
But talk to them for five minute and you’ll quickly see it’s their business that they’re both the most passionate about. Owning a music store and studio was always in the forefront when they talked about their hopes and dreams and “somedays,” but more of a distant plan for when their kids were grown. That is, until Jon’s mom found them the perfect spot in Prosper and convinced them the time to follow their dream was NOW. There’s been no looking back as they’ve not only made their dream a reality, but turned it into an unqualified success. In March, just a little over a year after opening, they wrapped up expanding their studio to accommodate the over 200 students who call Texas Amps & Axes home.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we think in one year’s time we’d need to expand…that it would be a necessity!” says Iris.
Of course, part of the reason for their unparalleled growth and success is that Texas Amps & Axes is like home, and the Meneleys work hard to make it feel that way. The store is the kind of place where you can grab a guitar off the wall and have an impromptu jam session with the staff, and the studio has a very personal, creative, homey vibe. It even has all the comforts of home, including a full kitchen for the students and their families, homework tables, a kids’ playroom chock full of toys, and a relaxing lounge for parents to enjoy while they wait on their students.
“We firmly believe that when you are comfortable in a space, you can break down barriers to learning, and soak up the knowledge being handed over to you,” says Iris.
More importantly, Jon and Iris treat their students and families like close friends, because that’s how they think of them.
“We know so many of our students and their families on deeply personal levels. We have celebrated new life, we have shared great loss, we’ve shouted for joy at students making first chair in orchestra, at making eagle scout. You know, just all the things that make us human!” says Iris.
Fostering these relationships is of the utmost importance to the Meneleys, who have two school-aged kids of their own. Consequently, education—and particularly supporting the arts in education—is also a priority. They love working with local schools, and budget supporting the theater, band and orchestra, and choir booster clubs, as well as show up to cheer on their students. In their own studio, they strive to provide the best music education they can. All their teachers have at minimum, a Bachelors in music, and three of the eleven also have Doctorates in musical studies.
Always attuned the needs of their families, the Meneleys also listen to what their families want. “We are constantly looking for ways to fill the needs of the community,” Iris says. That means the launch of summer camps this year, with themes like music trivia, drum, piano, guitar, ukulele, kindermusik and even a camp where you can build your own guitar. In the fall, they’ll partner with a large national instrument company to provide band and orchestra rental equipment as well. “Parents were going to chase me down the street if we didn’t offer that this year,” Iris says with laugh. And as music therapy becomes more widely recognized as a viable way to soothe patients with PTSD, depression, epilepsy, Texas Amps & Axes has their own guitar teacher who is a music therapist.
Being family also means being involved in the community, and the Meneleys have embraced Prosper as much as Prosper has embraced and supported them. Both Jon and Iris have been members of the Prosper Chamber of Commerce since December 2015, and have taken a very active role in chamber events. They regularly attend the bi-monthly meetings as well as all groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings for the chamber.
“Our involvement in the chamber affords us an opportunity to surround ourselves with those who are already solidified in the community,” says Iris. “It links us with businesses who like us, are new and working on building roots in the community. It’s a natural support system, and Jon and I believe very strongly that this system has been pivotal in our continued growth and success in this area. For that we are extremely thankful.”
After receiving the Best New Business in Prosper Award from the Prosper Chamber of Commerce in October of 2016, an honor that “blew them away,” Iris was nominated to the Chamber Board in 2016. The youngest and newest business owner on the board, she strives to bring a young entrepreneur’s viewpoint to the Chamber as well as use her background in Social Media and Public Relations to bring a fresh perspective to the Board. She’s also an active member of the Ladies in Leadership Group which was recently established to connect women in business, sits on the Chamber Banquet Committee, and is looking forward to the Chamber’s launch of the Young Entrepreneur Group.
Jon and Iris feel blessed to call Prosper home, and to share their love of music with the community that has become like family. “Music is the universal language,” says Jon. “With music, you can find common ground with anyone.”
For more information call (469) 296-6007 or visit their website at www.texasampsandaxes.com