Made for Music: DeDe Heid
Spend a few minutes with DeDe Heid and you’ll discover
she’s a very passionate person. Her eyes light up when talking about both her kids and her business.
The 40-year-old mother of three is the executive vice president of Heid Music. She juggles a full-time career and a busy home and advocates for music education. Heid
shares her story and her ambitions for the future.
Heid’s first job out of college was selling newspaper advertising for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Shortly after she started working there, Heid Music became one of her accounts. On a Friday afternoon in September 1998, Heid went to the store to discuss advertising opportunities and met Todd Heid. They caught each other’s eye. A few weeks later, she called to see if he was interested in attending a luncheon the newspaper was sponsoring. They soon began dating. DeDe and Todd have been married 13 years.
Heid Music was founded in 1948. Todd became the president of Heid Music in 2008.
Heid had been happy in her career at Fulfillnet, now Elevate97, as director of sales, although her frequent business travel was hard on her growing family. She joined her husband at Heid Music in the summer of 2011. “It was good timing. We are a third-generation family-owned business and Todd’s family began spending less time working in the business. He felt we could work very well together,” says Heid.
They were encouraged to partner. “An industry sharing group felt we came at the business from very different personalities and mindsets, so we would complement each other well,” adds Heid. “At the time, Todd also wanted to expand into more markets so we decided to drive the business forward together.”
When Heid came in, she focused on the company’s marketing efforts. Today she is the executive vice president of Heid Music. While she still works closely with the marketing team, she also works with the store managers at the five Heid Music locations —Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh, Madison and Wisconsin Rapids. She assists with their sales training initiatives, sales goals, coaching initiatives and community relations. Heid also works closely with the human resource manager and education team.
Given the layout of the downtown Appleton Heid Music offices, there are days Heid doesn’t see her husband. When they do come together for meetings or to make decisions, they bring out the best in each other. “We laugh constantly,” adds Heid. “We help each other rise to the top and also appropriately challenge each other.”
Heid describes her days as “structured chaos.” She explains one of the things she enjoys most about her job is that no two days are the same. “I do travel between all five locations throughout the week, coaching our managers. I also have various community initiatives that I am working
on, collaborating and trying to develop partnerships,” she says.
Family and Finding Focus
Todd and DeDe have three children, Braelyn, 12, Gianna, 9, and Otto, 4.
During school season, Heid is at the downtown Appleton location just after 8 a.m. Most days she’s there until 5 or 6, although a few days a week she’ll arrange her schedule to pick her kids up from school. Work often comes home with her. Networking events occasionally require her to head out in the evening.
When asked how she finds balance, Heid explains she tries to be realistic. A friend and mentor had suggested it was impossible to have complete balance all the time. “I was beating myself up trying to achieve balance and her advice was not to neglect the same thing too many days in a row. I remind myself of that often. Maybe today I scored a little low as a mom, I had little patience, but I can’t beat myself up about that. I just have to put that at the top of my list to do a better job of that the next day,” says Heid.
Developing Valuable Employees
Heid Music has 95 employees within the five locations. The couple is committed to being a great employer. Every month they host a “Heid Huddle” where employees can dial in to learn about what’s happening within the business. They also host luncheons throughout the year where employees are invited to bring questions.
“We started a wellness committee here that I am very passionate about,” adds Heid. “We’ve done different monthly and quarterly challenges, including a water and veggie challenge. Right now we are encouraging walking meetings.”
Advocating for Music Education
Heid didn’t grow up playing a musical instrument, although she’s currently taking acoustic guitar lessons. Heid explains while she’s slowly developing her skills, her primary goal is to play for enjoyment. She’s also tried her hand at piano when first dating her husband. “We are both highly competitive people, so we started to take piano lessons from two different teachers. We both tried to learn and see who could play a song,” she laughs.
Their children play musical instruments, although like many families it can be a struggle.
“I get it as a parent — my daughter recently tried to negotiate with us because she wanted to get out of the school orchestra program. I explained this is a non-negotiable in our house for a lot of reasons,” says Heid. While it’s painful to hear kids complain about practice and lessons, Heid believes there is value is encouraging them to stick with it.
“There is true data — data speaks volumes — that when kids are involved in music education, they perform higher in everything from science and math to academic testing scores. I believe it is one of the greatest investments parents can make in their kids,” adds Heid.
She explains in addition to the academic benefit, music has positive emotional and social benefits.
“We run a summer camp program called Rock University and there was an awesome note we received last year from a mom that talked about her son. He had come home so excited about the program and that he had met new kids. Prior to that he wasn’t connecting to anything. I think it is cool all the aspects music can touch, from the mental or academic to the social and creative,” adds Heid.
Because of this benefit, Heid advocates for music education for all students. They write letters and lobby legislators to support music programs. Heid Music provides financial aid to get instruments into children’s hands that can’t afford them. In mid-August, the company is hosting free workshops for music educators to explore student recruitment efforts, retention efforts and more.
In addition to time spent at Heid Music and at home, Heid sets aside time to give back to the community.
Heid explains her first significant nonprofit experience came from being involved in Rebuilding Together Fox Valley. She started on the marketing committee and soon joined the board. After a short time, the president wanted to retire and challenged Heid to take the position.
Today she serves on the board for the Fox Cities Building for the Arts as well as the Greater Green Bay Women’s Fund. She is involved and has emceed the annual UW-Fox Valley Foundation E.A.T.S. (Educational Assistance Through Scholarships) event. Heid also sits on two industry boards: National Association of School Music Dealers and AIMM, the Alliance of Independent Music Merchants.
When planning for the future, Heid and her husband are being challenged to think bigger. She says, “Our director of finance is suggesting that rather than work in the business, we should be working on the business.”
Heid reveals she has set aggressive sales goals as to where she wants Heid Music to be by 2020. To get there, they’ll have to work harder on their team. “We are working on stronger team development, pushing each other just enough in order to be better,” adds Heid. “We’ve been here for 68 years and I want to see us here another 68 in each community we are serving.” w