We had the good fortune of connecting with David Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had a 40 year career in manufacturing and telecom and was a director of product management in a large corporation. I had a side “hobby business” selling vintage guitars that had been going since 1989. I had always wanted to own a real brick and mortar guitar store and spent a lot of time discussing that path with my close friend and owner of Wildwood Guitars, Steve Mesple. In November of 2017 my son took his life. That changed my entire life and really pushed me to go do what I wanted to do. I stayed for another year in telecom and in April of 2019 opened Monkton Guitars. Prior to opening I spent a year working on a business plan including size, brands of instruments, branding and revenue forecasts for 3 years. Steve from Wildwood was a great help in the planning process. I had always worked in a corporate setting but my side hobby was my own business. The lure of running my own business was always present. It took a major event to leave the comfort of a high paying job to start a new business on my own.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I graduated from college with a degree in engineering. I started in the defense business and worked for a number of companies including two startups. I rose to Director of Manufacturing and Director of Operations. I moved to Colorado in 1997 to work for Ball Aerospace. A few of us left Ball to start a telephone company to do what is called triple play (phone, broadband and video) for residential homes in 1999. At that time this was not something many companies were doing. We went under in the dotcom meltdown and I ended up working for Qwest. I spent the last 10 years managing people. Leading others is difficult but also very rewarding. I learned more from the people who worked for me than my many years as an engineer. Going through bankruptcy also gave me a great appreciated for what can go wrong when running a business. My guitar business is really a different story and one of taking a risk to follow your passion. Music has always been central to my life. I booked major concerts in college and almost went down that part of a promoter. On the side I always had a music outlet. I have worked at eTown for 23 years and have also been heavily involved with the Boulder International Film Festival for 10 years. You have to foster a creative interest outside your daily work. In the end that creative interest lead to opening my own guitar store.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We are still in a pandemic so we have to step outside those confines. My itinerary would be focused on music, sites and food. In Boulder we would dine at my favorite sushi restaurant Japango and if timing was right catch a live performance of eTown with Nick and Helen Forester. We would have to have beers at Odd 13 in Lafayette and of course see a show at Red Rocks. I love art so a trip to the Denver Museum of Art would be on the agenda with drinks at the Art Hotel roof top bar. Maybe dinner at Linger or Root down in the Highlands. Outside of Boulder a trip to Salida would be in order. Pizza at Amicas in Salida with a drink at Boathouse Distillery. From Salida a trip to the Great Sand Dunes national monument. On the way back maybe a little fly fishing on route 285. Returning to Boulder a hike in Chautauqua park, maybe the arches. A show in the Chautauqua events hall with dinner at Blackbelly before the show.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There were three people that were major influences in the success of my store. The first was my original partner Bruce Hudson. We started Monkton Guitars in 1989. It was a hobby business but we learned a lot about guitars. Bruce came up with our slogan “We know people who know famous people.” I still use that slogan today. The second major influence was Steve Mesple of Wildwood Guitars. We have been friends since I moved to Colorado in 1997. I have sold Steve many guitars and acted as a resource for appraisals of his instruments. Steve and I met for coffee every 2 weeks for months prior to opening my store. His counsel was invaluable. The third was my wife Beth. We had gone through losing our son and she supported me leaving a successful career to pursue my dream. A strong marriage is a wonderful foundation of support. She is also a marketing professor and provided critique on my marketing and branding plan.
Linkedin: david williams
Yelp: monkton guitars
Shot one: Laurie Dameron and Lorrie Baum Single shot is me Outside shot is me and my wife Beth Parish