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Michigan Business Beat | Lillian Werbin, Elderly Instruments - Named America’s Top Small Business!

Michigan Business Network
November 3, 2023 2:00 PM


Chris Holman welcomes Lillian Werbin, Owner of Elderly Instruments, East Lansing, MI.Watch Lillian and Chris discuss Elderly Instruments and their recent recognition as America's Top Small Business, in the YouTube video shared below:


In their conversation, Chris looked to find out several things from Lillian.
Lillian, welcome, can you share your career path with the Michigan business community?

Elderly Instruments, tell us about the company?

Big news for Elderly Instruments, recognition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?

How many companies were competing for this honor?

What does this mean for your company?

Talent is a big issue for small business, how have you dealt with this challenge?

Shared below is more information, both congratulations from the local area, and the national recognition for the company!

Lansing Regional Chamber, Local Leaders Celebrate the Prestigious Recognition

(Lansing, MI) - The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) is thrilled to announce that Lansing’s very own Elderly Instruments has been recognized as America’s Top Small Business at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit. This prestigious recognition highlights Elderly Instruments' outstanding contribution to the world of music and their unwavering commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion within the music industry.

In 1972, Stan Werbin and Sharon McInturff had a vision to create a space where the joy of music would be accessible to everyone. Their dream materialized as Elderly Instruments, a store where music lovers from all walks of life could come together, play, and purchase affordable, quality-fretted instruments and accessories. Over the past fifty-one years, Elderly Instruments has evolved into more than just a store; it has become a haven for instrument enthusiasts, offering everything from brand-new guitars to vintage mandolins and more.

Last year, the torch was passed to Lillian Werbin, Stan Werbin's daughter. Under Lillian's leadership, Elderly Instruments continues to thrive with the same dedication and passion as her father. With nearly 40 full-time employees and a firm place in the heart of Lansing's community, the store has proven its resilience through generational transitions. It remains a business that, at its core, is all about making the joy of music accessible to everyone, where customers are encouraged to immerse themselves in the instruments, fostering trust and a hands-on approach.

“The rest of the country is finding out what we already know - Elderly Instruments is one of the best,” said Lansing Mayor Andy Schor. “I am thrilled that this Lansing small business is being recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. After 51 years in Lansing, Elderly Instruments continues to be a leader in our community and an excellent example of a small business making a big difference in the City of Lansing.”

But Elderly Instruments is not just a business, it's a company built on building community. The store has played a pivotal role in revitalizing Old Town Lansing, drawing in music lovers from around the world and boosting tourism in the area.

However, their commitment to diversity and inclusion goes beyond music. As company president, Lillian has actively championed diversity and inclusion in the music scene. The business supports national and local initiatives that uplift the voices of LGBTQ+ individuals and people of color within the bluegrass genre. Their unwavering commitment to musicians of all backgrounds has cemented their reputation as a Lansing mainstay and a beacon of musical diversity and inclusion.

"The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce is immensely proud to see Elderly Instruments take home this honor at U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit," said Tim Daman, President & CEO of the LRCC. "Elderly Instruments embodies the spirit of our vibrant and diverse community. Their dedication to making music accessible to everyone and their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the music industry is truly remarkable."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit was held October 19 to October 21, 2023. The seven finalists were selected from a group of 70 honorees. 

“This is some well-deserved and exciting recognition for such a beloved business in the Lansing area,” Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-07) said. “As I previously shared with Stan for their 50th anniversary last year: I’m not gifted musically, but I do know the sweet sound of success and Elderly Instruments has reached that not just as a business, but as a community staple that embraces diversity and inclusion. And now that success is being recognized on a national scale — congratulations, Elderly Instruments!”

For more information about Elderly Instruments, please visit www.elderly.com. To learn more about the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, please visit www.lansingchamber.org.


About the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce:
The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce is a leading voice for business in the Greater Lansing region. Representing over 1,100 businesses and individuals, the Chamber provides a wide range of programs and services to meet the needs of its members, with a focus on improving the business climate in the region. 

About Elderly Instruments:
Elderly Instruments is a music store in Lansing, Michigan, providing a wide range of musical instruments and accessories. Founded in 1972, the store has been committed to making the joy of music accessible to everyone and fostering diversity and inclusion in the music industry. Their dedication to quality and community-building has made them a Lansing institution.

Below is the US Chamber of Commerce article on the same topic!

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Logo

Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan Is Named America’s Top Small Business

U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s America’s Top Small Business Awards draw record participation from top small businesses across the country. The Michigan music store embodies the innovation, resilience, and growth mindset of American entrepreneurship.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Out of a record-breaking field of 15,000+ applicants hailing from every state in the nation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night (Oct. 19) named Elderly Instruments, a music store in Lansing, Michigan, as America’s Top Small Business for 2023.  

After narrowing the field down to the top 70 small businesses, and then naming seven finalists earlier this month, Elderly Instruments won the Chamber’s America’s Top Small Business award for its ability to embrace change, adapt to new challenges, and constantly innovate while remaining true to the company’s 50-year legacy and heritage. 

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"America's innovators and risk takers are the backbone of our communities and our economy," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark. "As we celebrate Elderly Instruments—a beacon of excellence in the music retail world and beloved in Old Town Lansing—we celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses across America. Their growth and continued success are built on a commitment to innovation, customer satisfaction, and investing in their employees." 

Elderly Instruments, a member of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, was announced as the winner at an awards dinner and gala on October 19 at the U.S. Chamber’s historic headquarters building in Washington, D.C. Elderly Instruments second-generation CEO Lillian Werbin was presented with the grand prize check for $25,000.  

Established in 1972, Elderly Instruments buys, sells, trades, consigns and repairs fretted instruments and accessories. The store's passion for assisting musicians at every stage—and sharing the history and cultural heritage behind the instruments they are selling—has remained constant even amid a recent transition to the second generation of ownership.  

The store played a vital role in the revitalization of Old Town Lansing when they expanded their brick-and-mortar footprint, breathing new life into the district. They sponsor and participate in numerous community music festivals, camps, and concerts that add to the vibrancy of Old Town Lansing and increase tourism to the state’s capital.   

Elderly Instruments has over 40 employees and recently implemented new, employee-driven core values to serve as the cornerstone of the company’s culture.  

After evaluating thousands of applications, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce selected America’s top 70 small businesses last month—10 standout small businesses in each of the nation’s seven regions. In early October, one business from each region was selected as a finalist to be in the running for America’s Top Small Business.  

In addition to Elderly Instruments, the finalists were: 

Learn more about this year’s finalists here

This year’s top small businesses and finalists were invited to Washington, D.C. for the awards ceremony and America's Top Small Business Summit: Ready. Set. Scale. where they were recognized and celebrated. All will receive a one-year paid membership to the U.S. Chamber and the seven finalists are featured on the CO— website, a platform that provides practical information and tips to 20,000 business owners daily and over 6 million individuals annually. 

During the summit, attendees gained invaluable insights from the tactical success secrets shared by America’s Top Small Business finalists and enjoyed exclusive access to executives from industry giants such as Google, Walmart and Meta that ardently champion and promote small businesses.  

Enova International and its small business lending platform OnDeck presented the America’s Top Small Business Award to Elderly Instruments and hosted a fireside chat during the summit exploring the challenges small businesses face when seeking capital with Cory Kampfer, Enova’s Co-President of Small Business Lending. 

“We’re honored to collaborate with the U.S. Chamber to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of small businesses,” said Kampfer. “Enova and our OnDeck small business lending platform remain steadfast in our commitment to empowering and championing the growth of small businesses, which are so critical to powering America and helping our economy thrive. We congratulate Elderly Instruments — along with all of this year’s finalists — on this recognition.” 

Find a recap of the America’s Top Small Business Summit here

How the U.S. Chamber Supports Small Business 

 America’s Top Small Business, formerly known as the Dream Big Awards, is part of the U.S. Chamber’s longstanding commitment to supporting and advocating for small businesses. We work every day to give small businesses a big voice in Washington, connecting entrepreneurs and federal officials and advocating for policies that help them grow, rather than holding them back. Our Small Business Council is made up of 100 small business owners from across the country that steer our work in fighting for policies that keep Main Street businesses thriving and regularly visit Capitol Hill. The Chamber’s Board of Directors consists of small business, corporate, and nonprofit leaders from all sectors and sizes of business, and from all regions of the country. 

Since 2017, we have partnered with MetLife to survey small businesses on a quarterly basis for the Small Business Index, which provides valuable insights on current challenges and opportunities for small business that inform our advocacy in Congress. The Chamber's Prompt Pay Pledge advocates for faster payments to support small business suppliers. Through our small business platform CO—, which helps almost 20,000 businesses every day and had more than 6 million site visits last year alone, we are equipping small businesses with the tools and insights they need to ensure their own resilience in the face of any challenge. 

Learn more about the U.S. Chamber's small business work here.  

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing companies of all sizes across every sector of the economy. Our members range from the small businesses and local chambers of commerce that line the Main Streets of America to leading industry associations and large corporations.

They all share one thing: They count on the U.S. Chamber to be their voice in Washington, across the country, and around the world. For more than 100 years, we have advocated for pro-business policies that help businesses create jobs and grow our economy.

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