The story of Hartley Peavey and how his company began and developed into what has become one of Mississippi's most important industries, and this area's largest employer, is not as well known as the company itself.
Recently Peavey agreed to tell that story on television. The interview took place in Peavey's office in the company's building on Highway 493 in Broadmoor. We began by looking back almost 50 years.
"Actually Peavey got started a long time ago, at least in my mind," said Hartley Peavey. "My grandfather had a little shop in his backyard. He kind of taught me to tinker. As a matter of fact I went to the Ross Collins Vocational School. The first time I went the summer between the sixth and seventh grades as I recall and that's where this whole thing started."
Hartley's father, Mutt Peavey, owned Peavey Melody Music Company on 22nd Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets. He sold the business but retained ownership of the building. It had an empty room upstairs.
"So he told me basically that that room was there, nobody could or would rent it from him. If I wanted to use it, use it. So I moved out of my parents basement into that space so it really kinda started in my dad's basement--using my grandfather's tools that he left me when he died. I think he died when I was in 8th grade," Peavey said.
Even as a teenager there were signs he could be someone special.
"I used to win all these science fairs and my teachers thought I was a genius but you can look at my grades and see that wasn't the case," he laughed. "And, frankly, I didn't like school but I did like going to the vocational school."
Peavey's father insisted he go to college. After graduating from Mississippi State, young Hartley Peavey decided he wanted to be a musician but soon discovered that was not his future.
"I have a saying that all of us come into this world with a little bag of tricks," said Peavey. "Call it talents or ability, whatever, but you're given this. Didn't cost you anything and it's then up to you what to do with it. My talent was just building things. Still is."
In 1964, that talent led him to start a small business manufacturing amplifiers and P.A. systems. It now employs between 1600 and 1700 people.