The Quest Begins BY ASHLEY FOLEY
Trachilis began his music business career in high school, not working at a store (no one would hire an inexperienced 16-year-old), but for his band teacher, Mr. Hemerling, who took Trachilis under his wing and taught him the ins and outs of instrument repair by fixing the never-ending stream of broken, battered, and bruised instruments turned into the teacher. With his newfound skills and a high school diploma, Trachilis finally got the job he wanted two years later at a Winnipeg music store, which helped increase his knowledge of fixing almost any instrument
while learning how the local business market worked.
He was also an active participant in the local music scene, playing trumpet and drums in a variety of ska, metal, hip-hop, funk, and world beat bands like Black Velvet and the Blue Beat, Two Def Crew, Beggar Fusion, and the Raggamaroons.
Over the next four years, his role in the company grew along with his determination. Two years after he started, he was practically running the shop and could fix anything, from piccolos to tubas. He was offered the chance to complete
additional training at a prestigious instrument repair shop in Vancouver where he further developed his abilities with the tools of the trade.
He returned home and developed a regular
clientele list, which included symphony musicians,
but left for the west coast again in 1994 to take a
new job in the fi eld. A year later he was back in the
city with a binder of contacts, pages of references,
and a solid business plan. It was time to open his
He married his longtime girlfriend Nomeca,
and together, the couple started the operation that
would eventually become Quest Musique in the
basement of their home.
Coincidently, at the same time, the music store
Trachilis had previously worked for was going out
of business, allowing him to purchase the necessary
tools to help launch the repair business and
leading new customers to get in touch with their
former repair man.
“I had a lot of clientele connections from the
shop I’d left, so I was slowly setting some goals
and achieving them,” he says. He started doing
repairs out of his West End home for his numerous
contacts in the city and acquired relationships with
school divisions outside of Winnipeg who didn’t
have a local repair shop to count on.
At the conclusion of every school year,
Trachilis would spend weeks driving around
rural Manitoba in his van picking up instruments,
which he would fi x and drop off in time
for the new school year to begin. By 1995 the
business outgrew the home, so the pair bought
a building in the heart of Winnipeg’s French
community, St. Boniface, and opened the doors
to the public.
“We wanted to have a little French fl avour
in the name, so we called the store Quest
Musique,” Trachilis explains. The shop was
everything he initially envisioned: a customerservice-
oriented one-stop locale for musicians
to purchase instruments, rent gear, get repair
work done, and take music lessons. “We were
embraced by the community and we were
busier than I imagined,” Trachilis says.
Quest Musique eventually outgrew the
small shop and seven years later, the 6,000
sq. ft. fl agship store on Portage Ave. was
purchased. The larger space allowed Trachilis
to expand the operation in every way, with additional
product lines, more music lessons, and a
“As soon as we opened the doors, people
came in,” Trachilis says proudly. And they kept
coming. The success of the new store led to
Quest Musique’s second location in the St. Vital
area in southern Winnipeg, across from one
of the city’s largest shopping centres.
The Quest Atmosphere
The fact Quest Musique has its own “in-house
band” speaks to the quality of people who are
hired and the relationships that have evolved in
the laid-back atmosphere. But as every business
owner knows, friendly employees and exceptional
customer service are not the only ingredients
involved in cooking up a successful enterprise.
There are numerous intangibles involved, so
Trachilis doesn’t just talk the talk; he’s a hands-on
owner who gets involved with both the day-to-day
aspects of the business and supporting his staff’s
“Sam and Nomeca have spent a lot of time
making sure we don’t just have a store. He’s always
hosting, and it feels like he is hosting you in his
home when you walk in here,” says Dowse. “You
feel like a guest, as well as a customer. It’s important
that people feel comfortable coming to try out
equipment or just hang out.”
Both Quest Musique locations have a relaxed,
welcoming feel, due in part to the absence of
fluorescent lights. The “box store” feeling is nonexistent
because of the soft, warm lighting and
carpeting. Finally, the overall layout and design
has been carefully planned in a fashion that is both
pleasing and economical, making it look and feel more fun and friendly than intimidating.
“One thing I’m always trying to achieve is getting people in the store. When there’s people in the store,
there’s always excitement,” Trachilis says, noting there is always a satisfying “buzz” in the shop when people
are waiting for lessons, trying out equipment, or just wandering around checking out the merch.
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