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Milnar Organ Company

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About Us

Organ building is an art and science that dates back many centuries. At Milnar Organ Company, we are modern masters of the form. Our organ workshop is located on a beautiful hilltop named Cole Knob. It overlooks two ponds and is surrounded by rolling hills. This facility has thousands of square feet of workspace. The shop is divided into several departments, including office, woodworking, pipe servicing, voicing, solid-state electrical, leathering, and erecting. The erecting building has a 24' ceiling, allowing us to completely assemble an instrument prior to delivery. For storage purposes, we acquired a 40' x 60' temperature-controlled building, located half a mile from the shop. Our ability to construct an entire organ on our own premises is the most important component in our quality control. Our own staff members build wind chests, consoles, bellows, casework, and other components that our competitors often outsource. Supply is kept to a very limited number of firms with whom we have long-established professional relationships, and on whom we can rely to provide us with parts and materials exactly as we specify them. Low-quality components are never used — only the best and longest lasting parts are good enough for inclusion in a Milnar organ.

Many of the employees of Milnar Organ Company are members of the American Institute of Organbuilders (AIO) and American Guild of Organists. AIO members are individuals who possess the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and competence. Our company is also a member of the International Society of Organbuilders. Our stable workforce is the key to the strength of the company. Many have tenure at our firm of more than 20 years. New hires spend seven years as apprentices, moving through the various departments of the firm to gain all-round experience as organ builders before specializing in a chosen area.

Our Philosophy

Each Milnar pipe organ is a unique instrument that is crafted to serve the specific musical requirements it is called upon to fulfill. Painstaking attention to detail in all aspects of the design, physical layout, tonal composition, structure, installation, and tonal finishing guarantees that every instrument meets our exacting standards. This can only be accomplished through careful scaling and pipe adjustments, followed by meticulous voicing and tonal finishing to tailor each instrument to its unique environment. When completed, the instrument is capable of serving in its role of accompanying instruments and voices as well as successfully rendering a broad cross section of literature. Our goal is to build pipe organs of the highest musical integrity and mechanical reliability, qualities that never go out of style.

A Brief History of the Pipe Organ

Pipe organs are the largest of musical instruments, delicate hybrids of machinery and artwork. They are predominantly instruments built for places of worship and for the glory of God. As such, the primary function of the instrument is to aid the congregation in worship. The pipe organ first became popular in churches in the 15th century. Before then, it was used for pure entertainment, dating back to before the birth of Christ. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the pipe organ was perhaps the most technologically sophisticated device in existence. Pipe organ building is a profession rich with tradition, skill, and craftsmanship. In an age when unprecedented changes are occurring all around us, the pipe organ remains a symbol of longevity and quality.

Functional Works of Art

Each of our organs is individually conceived as a work of functional art. The design and construction of each instrument is approached through a demanding artistic discipline. Much of our work remains distinctly old fashioned, and we care for pipe organs using traditional methods that deliver proven, reliable results. All Milnar organs are solidly engineered and built for generations of reliable service. We lavish attention on many small details of construction, all of which directly contribute to an organ's visual beauty, nobility of tone, and long life. We are proud to create instruments that are truly awe-inspiring, as pleasing to the eye as they are to the ear.

Meticulous Construction & Installation

A lasting creation of beauty, each pipe organ we construct is hand tooled by our highly skilled craftsmen and represents the finest in American pipe organ building. We start with computerized drawings to allow us to plan and build each component of the organ. To confirm that your instrument meets our high standard of quality, each component is tested and the entire organ is assembled before leaving our shop.

Our installation team, which includes the craftsmen who built the organ, transports the finished product to your location. Once the instrument is installed, our tonal team completes the task of final tonal regulation of each pipe in the instrument. Arduous attention to detail ensures that your new Milnar pipe organ will beautifully and reliably serve your congregation for generations.

Our Staff

It has been our company's goal to constantly challenge its employees to learn new skills and technologies so that each person continues to grow as a craftsman and organ builder. It is this process which makes each new project exciting and fresh, which encourages long-term commitment to the firm. Each brings their own special talents, skills and personality to a friendly atmosphere where unique work is created.

Dennis Milnar

Dennis Milnar
Sr. Partner & Founder

Dennis Milnar was born in Buffalo, New York in 1943 and married Constance Cairns in 1961.  They have five children, seven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. Dennis started his organ building career in 1961 with the Delaware Organ Company of Tonawanda, New York under the direction of Robert C. Colby (mentor).  He served a full apprenticeship starting in the woodshop moving on to the metal shop, leather work, and electrical wiring. 

Dennis spent the last few years voicing and tonal finishing with Vice President and Tonal Director Eugene Burmaster. During his tenure with Delaware he was involved in building, installing, and tonal finishing dozens of organs including thirteen in New York City.

 In the summer of 1968, Dennis moved the family to Nashville Tennessee to start Milnar Pipe Organ Service and was also a representative for Delaware Organ Company. In 1976, he again moved the family to a farm just south of Nashville, built a new organ shop and started building organs under the name of Milnar Organ Company.

Derek Milnar

Derek Milnar
Partner & Technical Director

Derek Milnar was born September 8, 1961 in North Tonawanda, New York. He moved with his parents to Nashville, TN in 1968. At age 12, Derek began working summers for the Organ Company. Derek joined the TN Army National Guard in 1979 and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Nashville State Technical Institute in 1981, with an AE in Architecture. He then joined Milnar Organ Co. full time right after college specializing in design and electrical work. Derek has three children Ryan, Jonathan and Miranda. Derek served in the Gulf War from 1990-1991 and in 1999 retired from the National Guard with the rank of Major.

Jeff Milnar

Jeff Milnar
Partner & Senior Cabinetmaker

Jeff Milnar was born February 18, 1964 in North Tonawanda, New York. Jeff started working with the organ company during summers around the sixth grade. He started working full time in 1983, after attending Middle Tennessee State University. Jeff specializes in woodworking for the company. He has attended multiple seminars around the country for woodworking techniques. He is a member of the AGO, AIO, and the ISO. Jeff currently lives in Murfreesboro and enjoys time with his family.

Todd Milnar

Todd Milnar
Partner & Tonal Director

Todd Milnar was born February 3, 1966 in North Tonawanda, New York. Todd began with Milnar Organ Company at an early age as a high school student working summers and after school. Todd studied pipe voicing and scaling in Belgium with Klaus Furtwangler of Germany and Ferdinand Stemmer of Switzerland. In this country, Todd attended voicing seminars at Schantz Organ Company, C.B. Fisk, Berghaus, Buzard and with Peter Duyes at Peterson. In 1995, he attended a workshop on organ restoration at Nelson Barden's shop in Massachusetts and also a restoration seminar with Taylor & Booty on the Tannenburg organ. Todd has been involved in restoration of wind instruments for over 25 years. Within this period, Milnar Organ Company has restored hundreds of reservoirs of all styles and designs.

Greg Milnar

Greg Milnar
Partner & CFO

Greg Milnar was born November 8, 1972 in Nashville, TN. Greg started working for Milnar Organ Company during the summers of high school and college. In 1995 he graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a Major in Marketing and Minor in Photography. Greg worked for Milnar Organ Co. for two years full time after graduation, and then took a position with a software firm in Brentwood, TN. After working four years in Technical Support for Private Business Inc. /Gold Leaf Financial, he returned to the family business as a Partner and now is the company's CFO. Also, Greg is the Owner and Principal Broker of the real estate company Bella Villa Properties in Franklin, TN. Greg lives in Franklin with his wife Donna and their son Preston.

Kevin McGrath

Kevin McGrath
Cabinetmaker & General Organbuilding

Kevin McGrath was born Jan 8, 1981 in Nashville, TN. He currently lives in Rockvale, TN on a farm just outside of town. He attended Eagleville High School and graduated in May of 2000. He took many woodworking and art classes during his schooling. Kevin worked for Don Pablo’s restaurant for three years as head cook. He worked with management a great deal and left for better opportunities. Kevin has been with us for over 10 years and shows great interest and respect for the pipe organ industry. He is currently working with Jeff in the woodworking division and is doing very well. He has been involved in several rebuilds and installations. He has been a great asset to the company with his talents.

Amanda Roberson

Amanda Roberson
Office Administrator

Amanda was born July 11, 1979 in Nashville, TN. She currently lives in Rockvale, TN about three tenths of a mile from the shop. Amanda attended Smyrna High School and graduated in May of 1998. She excelled in office administration and computer classes. After her schooling, she started her career with Continental Development Co. in Franklin, TN. She gained office experience that has become a great asset to our company. Amanda joined the Milnar firm in September of 2009 and has brought a professional touch to the office. We are pleased to have such a talented administrator on our staff.