Ken Haas finds niche, growth in celebrating players
IT WAS 1999 when Ken Haas knew that he was destined to be in the guitar business. A chance visit to a Detroit-area Music-Go-Round introduced him to Reverend Guitars — then only a two-year-old company. One of the company’s early guitars was hanging in the shop and Haas noticed the Eastpointe, Michigan stamp on the head stock. Being nearby, he paid a cold-call style visit to Reverend headquarters both to ogle over the guitars and convince Joe Naylor to buy some sand paper. He was successful in both endeavors. In fact, Haas and Naylor hit it off and a quick friendship was formed. Naylor, who obviously saw the salesman potential in Haas, invited him to the Summer NAMM show.
“He asked if I had ever been to one,” recalls Haas. “I didn’t even know what that was. He was like, you should come. He took me as a guest… and I lost it. This was Nashville, when Nashville bled off into the hallways and down the street. I had a moment where I realized I was doing the wrong thing with my life. I was pretty excited. I was hanging out in a booth with Bob McNally (of Strumstick fame) and Will Ray comes to the booth and starts talking to Bob. I join in on the conversation the whole time thinking ‘This is Will Ray! How fucking cool is this?!’ So he looks at my badge and says “Reverend Guitars… what’s that all about, Ken?” So I started telling him how the guitars were made and he thought it was interesting and said he’d have to stop by the booth and check them out. A couple of hours later I walk by the booth and Will is writing Joe a check. He bought two guitars. I come walking into the booth and Will said “Oh Joe, here’s Ken. He’s the guy that told me about the guitars. He’s a real nice guy.” Will goes away and Joe was like “How the fuck did you do that!?” I told him I didn’t know. I just started talking to the dude. Joe said he was going to bring me to every one of these from now on. So that started it with me and Joe.”