In the White House, Peter Perez and the Piano

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Commerce Peter Perez in front of the White House piano he helped restore in the early '90s. (Photo: Ryan Modlin)

Ryan Modlin, NAM’s vice president for government relations, attended today’s White House bill signing ceremony and got to talking with Peter M. Perez, the new deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing in the International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

Peter is former CEO of the family-owned Carter Products Co. in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a former board member of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Along with running the family-owned business, Peter also had a distinguished career in the manufacturing of musical instruments. He served as president of the Elkhart, Ind.-based Conn-Selman Inc. and Waltham, Mass.-based Steinway Musical Instruments Inc. Steinway!

And as a matter of fact, Peter told Ryan, some 20 years or so ago he helped refurbish the piano being played at today’s White House ceremony.

Steinway has more info on the instrument:

The second White House piano was built and presented to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1938 to commemorate the production of Steinway’s 300,000th piano. The new piano, designed by New York architect Eric Gugler, was more than nine feet long, with a case of Honduran mahogany and gold leaf by artist Dunbar Beck. Last renovated in 1992 during the administration of George H. W. Bush, the piano remains today in the East Room of the White House.

Small world! And judging from the music we heard on television, job well done, too.  Congratulations all the way around, Peter.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Patricia Prudente says:

    Dear Mr. Perez,

    I had a most illustrious sales career at Steinway Hall during the time this historic Steinway was in the stages of it’s rebuilding. During the last Christmas program aired on televison direct from Washington(2009), it was a disspointing experience to hear and see that the piano for the concert was not a Steinway & Sons American instrument. For many reaasons I believe this was an error for the music, American History, and due recognition of the commitment this company has had with it’s homeland, Amrerica and glory due for performance in it’s true home “the White House”. At least another should have come from the Factory for such an American occasion if the 300,000th instrument could not perform at it’s best. Why?

  • Peter Perez says:

    Thank you Ryan for this blog entry. It was a tremendous honor to be at the White House. It also was an important day for manufacturers. The signing of the Manufacturing Enhancement Act not only benefits many manufacturers in our country, but it also helps to increase exports. The event was especially meaningful to me as I ran into an “old friend”…the Steinway piano presented to the nation by the Steinway family in 1938. My relationship with that piano began in 1980 when the piano was returned to the Steinway factory in Long Island City, NY for a complete restoration. The work took 1 year and included replacement of the piano plate and many other enhancements. I was thrilled to listen to the instument on August 11th and speak with the Marine pianist to learn that the piano has been well maintained these past 30 years.

    Just for the record, I was President of C.G. Conn, not Conn-Selman. Also, Steinway is headquartered in Long Island City, NY, not Waltham, MA. Due to an error in an earlier article, this was easily confused.

    All the best,

    Peter Perez
    Dep. Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing
    U.S. Department of Commerce

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