The Portland Piano Company Story
Portland Piano Company, formed by Mitch Paola and his staff in 2013, is a company built on the strong conviction that their long history of supporting the local music community must continue. When Sherman Clay announced they would be closing their store in Portland, a difficult decision for all involved, Mitch and his crew unanimously agreed without hesitation that their desire was to remain committed to music in Portland. Plans for a new store began to take shape soon after. It was the next logical step for Mitch, whose passion for music lead to his decision to join the family business, Moe’s Pianos, 30 years ago. Moe’s Pianos is named after Maurice (Moe) Schuster, Mitch’s grandfather, a violinist with the symphony who loved to rebuild pianos.
In 1989 Moe’s Pianos became part of the Sherman Clay family and Mitch stayed on as General Manager, a position he’s held for the past 25 years. After 30 years on Southeast Woodstock, Sherman Clay/Moe’s Pianos moved to the newly developed Pearl District in 2003 situating itself in a beautifully renovated 18,000 square foot building, complete with piano workshop and a 125 seat recital room. Upon completion of their lease in 2013, the owners of Sherman Clay, a family owned business since 1870, ultimately decided not to renew their lease, downsize their operation and leave the Portland market.
Today Portland Piano Company continues the ongoing commitment to provide the highest quality sales and services by offering quality new pianos and used pianos for every budget and special event pianos through Moe’s Pianos Concert & Event Rentals. Mitch and his staff are excited about this next chapter in our history and invite you to experience our extraordinary attention to detail and friendly, professional service.
MITCH PAOLA, OWNER
Mitch has lived his entire life in the greater Portland area and has been working in the piano world for 30 years. His appreciation of classical music started at a young age when he spent endless hours with his grandfather, the late Maurice (Moe) Schuster, Moe’s Pianos namesake, who was a concert violinist with the Portland Symphony.
Mitch joined the family business in the early 1980’s and became part owner. In 1989, Moe’s Pianos became part of Sherman Clay and Mitch became the General Manager. Mitch loves the challenge of finding the right piano for a particular client. He’s personally matched thousands of pianos to satisfied clients that include Steinway artists, baseball greats, NFL quarterbacks and NBA stars. He also has an ongoing partnership with many Universities, Schools, and Churches including University of Oregon, Portland State University, Reed College and Portland Opera.
Mitch believes you shouldn’t just buy a piano, you should own one you truly love to play.
BRENDA KELL, MANAGER
Brenda Kell was born and raised in Walla Walla, Washington and moved to the Portland area in 1999. Prior to joining the team at Moe’s Pianos in 2000, she worked for a music company in Eastern Washington for three years. Taking pianos lessons as a child and young adult, she never outgrew her love of music, and enjoys being surrounded by beautiful pianos and the people who play them. Using her education and experience, she loves the challenge of finding the perfect piano to meet each customer’s needs and budget. She also considers it a privilege to work closely with local music teachers, artists and musical organizations. In this age of technology and hi-tech gadgets, Brenda believes that Kenneth Miller said it best… “The piano is able to communicate the subtlest universal truths by means of wood, metal and vibrating air.”
RON ALLEN, SALES
Ron assisted his first piano customer in 1970 in Eugene, Oregon. He has since worked with hundreds of customers, from first time buyers to concert pianists to find just the right instrument to meet their needs.
Ron is a native Oregonian and is proud to work for a locally owned and operated piano shop where quality instruments and quality service really do matter. “It always brings a smile to my face when I think of how many pianos I have delivered to Oregon families where children, many of whom are now adults, spent quality time around the family piano.”
Ron is available to assist you with all of your piano needs. If you are thinking of buying, selling or perhaps consigning a piano, Ron has the experience and knowledge to help you. The buying process should be a pleasant experience and Ron will do everything possible to ensure that it is.
PARK LLAFET, SALES
Park Llafet (La-fay) recently joined Portland Piano Company’s sales team. As a career piano sale veteran of sixteen years in Portland & SW Washington he also has had an extensive career as a musician. He started piano at the age of six and continued on through college in piano performance. Though he did not finish, he found a career playing for hotels in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho’s premier Coeur D’ Alene Resort, Holland America Cruise Line in the Caribbean, Nordstrom and even Portland’s Ruth Chris Steakhouse during the holidays. Park has general managed two piano stores the Day Music Company and Hollywood Music Center. His career has even had him selling pianos for Costco during their ten day road show. Park says. “selling a piano to a first time student whether they are six or sixty is truly amazing but to teach is even just as satisfying!” Park still maintains a small piano studio.
TERRY ROBSON, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
Terry worked with Sherman Clay-Moe’s Pianos for nearly 27 years, originally as Warehouse Manager, and now, with Portland Piano Co. as the administrative assistant. He manages a fleet of Baldwin, Steinway and Yamaha pianos that are used exclusively for special events, such as concerts, private parties, fundraisers, corporate events and weddings. Over the years, he’s developed a close working relationship with many of the local venues and concert producers enabling him to facilitate your rental needs with ease. When not working with pianos, Terry helped co-found The Columbia River Theatre Organ Society, a 501©(3) nonprofit, educational organization. He has served on its board of directors several times holding the positions of President and Vice-president. Although not currently serving on the board, he continues to assist with club activities. Email Terry
BILL LEWIS, OUTSIDE SALES
Bill Lewis – Portland Piano Company SalesBill calls himself a struggling amateur pianist who joined Portland Piano after a forty year career as a general practice lawyer. With a twinkle in his eye he now claims to be a lawyer “in recovery”. A Midwesterner who came to Portland twenty four years ago, Bill also had a parallel career as a professional pilot who has wings from the Navy, Army and Air Force as well as an extensive flight training background.
As a teenager Bill not only stumbled his way at the keyboard, but also learned to tune and make modest repairs on pianos. He gave up on that work because to him every piano, even at concerts, sounded out of tune. This drove him crazy. The only solution was to move on to a different line of work. Over the years Bill has organized several music groups for amateur musicians to play for each other, most recently under the name “Carnaval”.
Bill’s primary focus at Portland Piano Company is reaching out to Portland area schools, churches, hotels, restaurants and the like to offer high quality broad piano support, whether it be technical services, rental resources or piano purchases. Bill also provides additional general sales support to individual customers who want to bring piano music into their lives at home. He gets a particular kick out of hearing young children play circles around him and his older amateur colleagues. He also loves hearing anyone with even the most modest piano skills playing the stunning Fazioli grand pianos we have at Portland Piano Company.
MALIA REDFIELD, ONLINE SALES & SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER – CONCERT AND EVENT DIRECTOR
Malia began working at Portland Piano Company in 2014 as an office assistant. Her position evolved to meet the high demands of an ever-increasing social media presence and online sales market. Today, she not only manages that department, but an entire fleet of rental pianos ranging from uprights to concert grands used exclusively for special events such as concerts, private parties, fundraisers, corporate events, and weddings throughout the Portland metropolitan area and beyond.
Outside of her work with Portland Piano Company, Malia has a beautiful family of four she adores spending quality time with. She is a self-proclaimed wannabe-artist that dabbles in oil painting, a former professional photographer that still has a love affair with her Nikon, but most of all, being a born and raised Oregonian, she enjoys the fruits of our state – hiking on the many trails, walks on the coast with a perfect cup of coffee, or relaxing with an especially good bottle of pinot noir (or rosé, she’s not one to discriminate).
Justin Johnson grew up with a love of music. He began playing drums in church and became a multi-instrumentalist by the time he graduated high school in Drain, Oregon. He defines his life’s work as “helping musicians find their voice.”Justin received his B.M. in Music Education from Wayland Baptist University in Texas, where he taught all levels of band and general music in a small, rural school district. When he relocated to Oregon to be closer to family, Justin decided to hang up his conducting baton and pursue a career in sales. He came to Portland Piano Company excited to combine his passion for music with his love of customer service. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, being outdoors, and making great music. When he is not assisting customers with their piano needs, he can be found enjoying the great outdoors with his family, or playing drums somewhere in Portland’s vibrant music scene.