MIDVALE -- For more than a century, music has served as a kind of spiritual glue for Utah families.
And throughout that period, the Daynes family has provided the instruments to draw people together and bind them close."Our company has always been involved in bringing music to Utah," said Gerald "Skip" Daynes, fourth-generation owner of Daynes Music. "In the early days, it was music for families. . . . We have known all these years that peace and tranquillity and togetherness come from having music in the home."
That knowledge still drives Daynes to keep the family business going, even as Utahns spend less time playing the piano and more time tapping computer keyboards.
The store he bought from his dad in 1967 traces its roots to the business John Daynes founded in a log building in downtown Salt Lake City in 1862.
That makes Daynes Music, 6935 S. State, the oldest continuously operated family business in Utah, according to a recent study by the Institute for Family Enterprise at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I.
The study singled out businesses that have been in the control of a single family since inception and are located in the state where they originated.
Some of the long-standing companies are household names, like the Haas family's Levi Strauss company, founded in 1853 in California. Or The Stroh Brewing Co., founded in 1850 in Michigan.
Some go back more than three centuries, like the Tuttle Market Gardens, founded in 1640 by the Tuttle family in New Hampshire.
And then there are the "newer" arrivals, like Daynes Music.
John Daynes led the company from its founding until 1901. In 1873, he started selling Steinway & Sons pianos. The store is now the oldest Steinway dealership in the United States.
In 1902, John Daynes handed over the reins to Royal W. Daynes. Royal's love of music led him to help fund the Utah Philharmonic, the forerunner of today's Utah Symphony.
When Royal's son, Gerald R. Daynes, bought the business in 1950, Daynes Music housed the offices and scenery of the Utah Civic Ballet.
"We had a real strong hand in helping the ballet succeed," Skip Daynes said.
Gerald R. Daynes retired at 60, the same age Skip Daynes is now.
"When I bought the business from my father, it was $97,000 in the red," Skip Daynes said. "The only reason I did it was because it was 105 years old at the time, and I didn't want to see it go bankrupt."
Skip Daynes followed generations that went before him, using the store to house the offices of Utah Opera. He is known for supporting the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, as well as myriad music programs at the University of Utah.
Skip Daynes also brought success back to the family business.
"It is not the kind of business that one makes a ton of money at," he said. "It took years just to get to the point where I could even take a day off. . . .
"Not everybody wants a piano. People would rather spend their money on NBA tickets than buy a piano and help their kids expand their minds through music."
Even Skip Daynes was not totally sold on the music business as a boy. He preferred to work at his uncle's ranch -- "I wanted to be cool," he said -- and only worked at the family store during the winter.
Serving on the ranch did teach Skip Daynes how to work and gave him a sense of responsibility, he said. That, a management degree from the University of Utah and a desire to encourage the development of musical talent in the state's families drove him to buy the store from his father, despite its dire financial straits.
"We've been fortunate to be in Utah," he said. "Utahns sacrifice for their families, in most cases. They sacrifice to help their children find success. . . . Even during the (Great) Depression, music didn't go away (here)."
Skip Daynes did not have to push the store through a Depression, as his grandfather did. But over the years, he has moved the store, opened and closed new stores and franchises and survived through tough financial times.
He also took care to prepare his sons, Todd and Tim, to become the fifth Daynes generation at the helm.
"They have been well-tutored, and they're ready to do it," Skip Daynes said.
He said they share his desire to improve music education in Utah's schools. And to make sure the family business keeps their interest, Skip Daynes said, he has tried to make it worth something.
One of the keys to keeping a family business alive for more than a hundred years is, after all, communication with the next generation, he said.
Another is patience. And, in the case of Daynes Music, a desire to keep bringing families together.
"One day, everything will go horrible. But if you hang in there and have patience, there will be good things that come, too . . . ," Skip Daynes said.
"If people are in business simply to make money, they cannot continue in a family business. They have to be oriented around service to the community."