Bob Hyams

Photo by John F. Russell

Bob Hyams

Locals 2013: Bob Hyams

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Look beneath the sets of local drummers and you’ll see something taking the percussion world by storm, all from the Copper Ridge business of local Bob Hyams.

Ask Hyams, a former home builder, and he’ll say the recession that started in 2008 was a good thing. It let him get up the nerve to launch a business dear to his heart that’s catching on faster than a calypso cadence.

“If the recession hadn’t come, I likely wouldn’t have been open to this kind of venture,” Hyams, 50, says. “If you’d have asked me five years ago if this is what I’d be doing, I’d have said, ‘No way.’”

What’s he’s doing is changing the drumming industry. His nylon Black Widow Drum Web pad replaces heavy and bulky drum rugs, sliding under drum sets to prevent them from “creeping” or sliding around. As well as being lightweight and easily portable, it also employs Velcro that fastens to the pedals to further prevent movement.

Hyams has won several awards for the pads and expects to sell nearly 4,000 this year. It’s also endorsed by the likes of LMFAO drummer Kris Mazzarisi, Diana Ross’ drummer Gerry Brown, Rick Springfield drummer Roger Carter, percussionist Sheila E. and Tim Waterson, the fastest double bass drummer in the world. Locally, you’ll find them under the sets of Eric Barry, Ron Wheeler, Rick Phillip, Pat Waters, Mark Walker and more.

It took him a while to find the rhythm of his new venture. A drummer since his youth, Hyams moved to Steamboat in 1980 from Pennsylvania and then hung up a drummer ad at the Strings Music Store. He started with the band Fez, then went on to play with Randy Kelley, Willie Samuelson and Jed Clampit, whom, as well as Johnny Cash tribute band Instant Cash, he still plays with today. To support his drumming habit, he started building homes, which dried up in 2008.

It was as he was listening to a motivational CD while driving across the country delivering camper trailers that the light bulb struck. “It was a classic case of reinvention,” says Hyams, whose daughter, Sequoia, is a local hairdresser. “I had a lot of windshield time and the idea just came to me. Drummers’ sets always moved around, and this came from the desire to solve that.”

Dabbling with cardboard prototypes to get the pattern right, he visited several Amish factories for material ideas before stumbling upon a material he knew well: the tough nylon from construction bags. Local Turner DuPont helped him make the first batch, and Steamboat entrepreneur Kim Haggarty, who carries them at All That Jazz, signed on as a silent partner. “It’s a cool product that didn’t exist in that whole category,” says Haggarty, whose daughter Hanna uses one in her band. She adds that she gives one to every drummer who plays at Sweetwater Grill and that this summer, promoter John Waldman will give them to every drummer who plays in the Free Summer Concert Series.

Hyams runs it all through a company called Pahu International (Pahu means “drum” in Hawaiian), warehousing them locally and in Illinois. “I love being able to base something like this out of a small town like Steamboat,” he says, crediting office assistance from friend Lianne Pyle to help him keep the company growing. “I’m in my passion element now and really enjoying it. It’s amazing how things work out sometimes. Hopefully, I’ve hung up my construction bags for good.”

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