UNB Alumni
Telling our #ProudlyUNB stories

Growing the global SABIAN brand in rural New Brunswick

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Jan 18, 2024

Category: Inspiring Stories , UNB Fredericton , Management

While Meductic might not be a place that’s widely known even within the Province of New Brunswick, let alone internationally, the flagship company that calls this small village home certainly is. SABIAN is world-renowned in the music industry, and the company behind it is considered one of the largest manufacturers of cymbals globally, distributing its products to more than 80 countries.  

The SABIAN brand has been built from the ground up over the past 40 years to reflect the passion and spirit of its people, and the quality and tradition of its craftsmanship. One of the many people responsible for that is UNB alum Stacey Clark (BBA’95).  

Stacey grew up downriver from Meductic in Nackawic, N.B., and travelled downriver a little further in 1991 to begin studying business at UNB. After graduating, she applied for jobs and was offered four different positions, all at prominent New Brunswick companies. She chose SABIAN because “it paid $1 more per hour.” She remembers, “I had majored in finance and figured I would work in that field so I thought this would be a short-term job. But when I started working at the company and learned about its history, I was hooked. I was inspired by the vision of the founder, and it was exciting to be a part of it. Now, 28 years later I’m still here and it’s like being part of the family.”  

The history that Stacey was so taken with is fascinating indeed. SABIAN was started by Robert Zildjian (DLitt’10), “a larger-than-life personality”. “Robert could instill a passion into people, which made us want to follow him and his vision. He was so respected as a leader and people just wanted to be a part of it.” 

Zildjian is a family name that goes back centuries in Armenian and Turkish heritage and is synonymous with the art of cymbal making. Robert, operating Zildjian with his father out of Massachusetts in the 1960s, created a factory in Meductic in 1968 to increase capacity to serve a rapidly growing market. He loved the area, and its people, and it became a place of refuge for him to hunt and fish.  

When his father passed, a court battle with his brother ensued and Robert got the manufacturing facility in Meductic, so, at 57 years old, he founded his own company, SABIAN, in 1981, which he named after his children, Sally, Billy, and Andy. Since then, both Zildjian and SABIAN have established reputations as forerunners in cymbal making. The current president of SABIAN, Andy Zildjian, took the reins after his father passed, and proudly continues the tradition of creating quality, innovative instruments that allow drummers to express themselves in their own creative voice.  

Artists from around the world have made SABIAN their cymbal of choice including, Neil Peart of Rush, Brian Frasier Moore of Pink, Eric Hernandez of Bruno Mars, and Frank Ferrer of Guns N’ Roses.  

Stacey began at the company as a customer service assistant and got to know the business and its customers extremely well. Throughout her career, she assumed various roles and in 2007, assumed the role of vice-president of marketing and has been doing exciting and innovative things with the brand ever since. 

“There is an insatiable appetite and a constant quest to find the next sounds today’s drummers are looking for. We exist for drummers and are always innovating and seeking more ways to expand the palette of sounds we can create for drummers.” 

SABIAN has focused on building relationships and innovating new sounds. “Our brand is about our people, and our people are what makes us unique. We’ve brought customers and drummers to Meductic from all over the world and they became immersed in the SABIAN way. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s special. We often joke about bottling the experience so that we can offer it to more drummers.” 

When the pandemic hit, the company stepped back to regroup. “We turned our focus on people and culture. We did a lot of live streaming events on social media and talked one-on-one with our customers.” 

“I love seeing how excited artists get about our products. And the company has always encouraged growth and risk-taking, even if that means making mistakes. Customer experience is at our core. It’s a very supportive environment.” 

In 2023, Stacey was elected to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) board of directors for a three-year term, where she will share her expertise and knowledge in helping to guide the global music products industry.  

You can hear the pride in her voice as she speaks about her job. “Seeing SABIAN on the global stage is amazing. We’ve been on the Superbowl stage, the Grammy stage, on commercials. That a tiny village of 300 people can create these unique pieces of metal that artists around the world want is very cool.”  

Stacey ends with another proud moment. “My youngest began a business degree at UNB last fall. That will make the fourth generation of my family to attend UNB: my grandfather, father, me, and now my son. That we can stay right here in New Brunswick to learn and work at the highest levels is pretty special.”