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Gabe Starkey‘s journey to president of Fox Products is a testament to his dedication and passion for music. With a love for music and a deep appreciation for manufacturing, Gabe’s path led him to the helm of a company renowned worldwide for its band instruments. Fox Products, founded in 1949 by Hugo Fox, has been a cornerstone in the musical instrument industry…

In an age when automation is becoming the norm, one Northeast Indiana musical instrument manufacturer has found a way to seamlessly blend technology with artistry. Fox Products in South Whitley employs a team of skilled professionals who make double-reed instruments — oboes, English horns, bassoons and contrabassoons.

Kris Slater, a pro bassoon key mounter, has done the job for nearly twenty years. Though he’s not a musician, his love for the double reeded instrument is in the craftsmanship. “There’s over 100 parts that I actually assemble on one bassoon,” he told us. “I take 30 to 40 hours to do my key work on one of these.”

“We straddle that fence by creating a high-quality instrument but also have that really high level of intermediate artists that students can rely on and can take all the way up through their master’s,” Starkey said. “That’s really what sets us apart.”

“Nestled among sparsely placed homes and farm fields, now barren from their crops, in Whitley County sits a place known worldwide for helping create beautiful music… Fox Products is now known as the world’s largest manufacturer of bassoons – having started in a modified chicken coop more than 60 years ago.”

Fox Products current employs about 120 people in its 29,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, plus 15 outside workers who do key mounting. Turnover has been practically nonexistent, although the company is beginning to see some retirements among its older instrument developers and craftspeople.

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