Bosco Violin Supply staff
(L to R) Christina Boskovic (Secratary), Isaac Boskovic (President), Leif Luscombe (VP), & John Boskovic (Founder)

In 1976, Bosco Violin Supply introduced an innovative product that would be embraced by string players across the country. As a company that has since expanded to specialize in the distribution of many bowed instruments and accessories, however, Bosco is not merely a one-trick pony.

The business, founded and operated by John Boskovic, was originally called Boskovic & Co. MFG/LTD and based in the metropolitan Toronto area. The company had a dual focus: bowed instruments maintenance and, through the company's own unique product design, providing durable and long-lasting bags to various school boards in its home region.

At the time, very few options were available for quality violin cases, says Isaac Boskovic, John's son who now operates the business. And so, after observing excessive failure with the common bags and cases in use, Boskovic & Co. developed its own bag using DuPont Cordura, YKK Canada zipp ers, and automotive-grade binding. Branded "Duralite," the product quickly proved itself as successful and soon became the company's principal offering.

Boskovic senior, with his business in-tow, moved to Mount Elgin, ON in 1986 so that he could work from home while raising his family in a rural area. In the mid-'90s trade name of Bosco Violin Supply was adopted to more accurately describe the company's focus on wholesale distribution. In 2010, the company was handed down to the next generation, with Isaac stepping into his father's position and leading the firm forward.

"We aim to innovate in practical ways, and it goes all the way back to some of the products that launched us," comments Isaac on the company's current operations. "Duralite bags and cases, for example, changed standards and expectations in school music programs and we have some projects developing new tools and that will improve common violin repairs as well."

Bosco Violin Supply warehouse
Bosco Violin Supply stock room

As a distributor, Bosco supplies violin and music stores, dealers, and luthiers across the country with products and accessories. Consistency, quality, and reliability, along with market relevance, are hallmarks of Bosco's trade.

"Our business philosophy has always been to identify needs in the market and fill those gaps with a quality product at a fair price," Isaac says. "While this may not appear to be a particularly aggressive approach, it has built us a solid foundation of long-term relationships with our dealers, and has also given us moderate but solid growth, even through the economic uncertainties of the last few years."

Within the bowed instrument market, Bosco has one of the most comprehensive catalogs of offerings in Canada, covering everything from student instruments to some very high-end makes and models.

Behind it all is experience and expertise gained over 45 years in the business. "We generally avoid the very cheap stuff where the quality drops below a critical mass necessary for good music to be produced," says Boskovic. "We also strive to keep improving quality, maintain fair and competitive pricing, and provide reliable and timely delivery of orders." He adds that 80 per cent of orders are shipped the same day they are placed.

When more students have access to instruments that sound good and play well, Boskovic believes that fewer become frustrated and are then more likely to become lifelong music makers. He feels his business's focus on quality over quantity is paying off in that regard, and is optimistic regarding a broadening bas of music lovers.

"We have found that the best promotion a product can get is being proven in the real world," he says. "Eastman instruments are a great example of a product line that has proved and promoted itself over the last two decades, and continues to do so." The product has to fill a need, Boskovic re-iterates, adding that Bosco does not try to sell people things they have no use for. "While we offer a good range of choices, excessive redundancy can waste resources."

Bosco Violin Supply remains strictly focused in the area of bowed instruments, but is broadening its supply line within that market to include more products from European sources, a category that has faded from the market over the last 20 years. Recently, Bosco established exclusive distribution in Canada for Klaus Heffler Instruments from Germany.

Throughout nearly four decades of business in what's largely a traditional industry, the company has certainly been able to keep with the times. "We have advanced with technology," Isaac says. "We now have a useful interface on our website for dealers to place, manage, and submit orders, but if you call us, we will pick up the phone and enjoy a conversation." Yet despite its consistent growth, Bosco Violin Supply still maintains that small family business ethos upon which the company was founded.

"In the violin business, we have some of the best clients in the world," says Boskovic in summation. "It is a small industry where honesty is expected, and very rarely breached. Highly valuable instruments are frequently consigned with no security other than good faith and honour." This tradition, he says, has stood for centuries - and it's one his company strives to uphold.

Written by Rick De Vries, Canadian Music Trade