For the past four years, Mountain View entrepreneur Chad Peabody has marched to the beat of his own drums.
Flattop Drum Company, the business Peabody co-founded with Anchorage musician Matt Chicklo, specializes in boxy cajons and symmetrical hex drums, which Peabody and Chicklo craft by hand in a cozy shop at the west end of Merrill Field. The company has experienced steady growth over the years. During the summers and the holidays, the drums fly off the shelves. They sell at a local music shop, at Salmonfest, at the Forest Fair and other fairs and bazaars around Southcentral. In early June, Flattop will host a booth at the 3 Barons Renaissance Fair.
Demand for the drums is strong.
“We can’t really keep up — we sell them as fast as we can make them,” Chicklo said one recent Saturday afternoon. “We usually try to get to the festivals with 30 or 40 hexes; that’s usually not enough.”
They build their drums in small batches, working in the evenings and on the weekends. Drums are cut from Baltic Birch, a high-grade wood with few voids, lots of plies and good resonance, Peabody said. After experimenting with a variety of sizes and sounds, they settled on a selection of styles selling for between $250 (for the largest cajon) and $75 (for the smallest hex drum).
The drum company is still a second job for both men: By day, Peabody still works as a remodel contractor and screenprinter; Chicklo is a lawyer. But Flattop is a growing part of their lives — Peabody estimates the business has seen approximately 30 percent growth per year. The reception from local musicians is the most rewarding part, he said. The business pays off in more ways than one.
“We get out of this everything we put into it,” Peabody said. “If we had more time we’d be growing way faster.”
This interview originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of Mountain View Post magazine.