ELKHART — Steven L. Rorie has joined jj Babbitt Co. as president effective Dec. 2. The announcement came from Rocco (Rocky) Giglio, retiring president and CEO.
“Steve has extensive knowledge and experience in the music industry,” said Giglio, who has had a working and personal relationship with Rorie for over 25 years. “He is the first and only person I thought of when I decided to retire. Steve is a ‘people person’ of integrity, who is fair and caring and has a unique blend of experience that is applicable to virtually every aspect of our operation. Now I can retire – at the age of 82 – knowing jj Babbitt will be in good hands.”
Rorie brings over 35 years of music industry experience to his new position. He went directly from high school to the factory floor of the Selmer Co., a major producer of musical instruments in Elkhart. During 28 years with Selmer, he worked at the firm’s Vincent Bach, Ludwig Drum and Main Street Woodwind divisions, rising through management positions to director of manufacturing in 2000.
In 2002, Rorie became operations manager and minority partner at B&B Molders LLC, a local injection molding plastics firm. There, he acquired extensive knowledge of resins, materials, process and tooling, which is pertinent to jj Babbitt’s line of plastic mouthpieces.
He returned to the music industry in 2009, joining EK Blessing, Sonare Wind Division of VQ Powell Flutes, where he developed a new factory and reinvented the process and product perspectives of the company’s brass line. Rorie then joined American Way Marketing and B&S USA with responsibility for instrument sales. He doubled the firm’s sales in two years before moving on to Buffet Crampon USA as Midwest division manager, achieving top sales honors multiple times over the next six years. Most recently, he was business development manager with KHS America in the sales of student, intermediate and professional wind instruments.
Rorie studied business management at Indiana University at South Bend, and production and inventory control at APICS and the Center for Competitive Change at the University of Dayton. In 1998, he graduated from the Executive Management Certification Program at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.
“I’ve always had a deep appreciation for what our industry does and its history,” Rorie said. “It’s not a big industry, but it’s important in the lives of many people. We are part of something special.”
He said he is “humbled by the responsibility” he has been entrusted with at jj Babbitt and is ready to meet the challenge and embrace the experience. Rorie noted that he manages and leads with his heart as well as his head. “When you invest yourself in people, the returns far outweigh the effort,” he said.
In addition to working with woodwind and brass instruments throughout his career, Rorie is a skilled musician, playing a variety of stringed instruments.
“I’m a musician and I know how to listen to and talk with other musicians to find out what they want and need,” he said.
Rorie lives in Edwardsburg, Michigan, with his wife of 44 years, Debbie. The couple has one son, Trace, also a musician and singer, who lives nearby with his wife, Stephanie, and three children, Addison, Caden and Evy.
The jj Babbitt Company Inc. celebrated its 100th year in 2019. The firm has produced millions of clarinet and saxophone mouthpieces in Elkhart and is known throughout the world for superior craftsmanship and quality control, as well as exceptional value.
Mouthpiece variations are sold exclusively through music distributors under the brand names Otto Link, Meyer, jj Babbitt, Wolfe Tayne, Guy Hawkins, Portnoy and Hite. Custom mouthpieces with private labeling are also available.
The principal OEM supplier to the world’s largest instrument manufacturers, jj Babbitt-made mouthpieces are played by musicians ranging in skill from school children to some of the world’s most famous professionals.