For one former student of Lorain County Community College, melding his passion of music with his studies has created a career inspired by his dreams. A business major who dabbled in computer technology, Jeff Nickoloff took his love of music to a more professional level by becoming the owner and operator of Ron Zehel Guitar Center in Amherst.
“I knew I [wanted] to be involved in music and own a small business,” Nickoloff said. “The use of computers to record music, help with inventory and online sales [gave] me a real foundation to go wherever I wanted to go with my career in music.”
Nickoloff started out playing in bands and teaching guitar lessons while taking classes at LCCC.
“I always wanted a backup plan; I didn’t realistically think that I would become a rock star overnight and the more I got into business classes the more it led me to where I’m at today,” he said.
Since taking over ownership of Ron Zehel’s in April, 2012, Nickoloff has given the store a major facelift, especially in the instrument department.
The store has a multitude of instruments in supply, including guitars, basses, drums, and accessories. Lessons are offered for beginners and advanced players in piano, voice, and drums, to name a few.
“He really made the store better when he took over,” Ryan Wash, a construction and engineering major at LCCC as well as a regular customer of the store, said. “The selection of instruments has gotten a lot better.”
The walls of Ron Zehel’s are now stocked with a steady inventory of guitars from brands such as Fender, Gibson, Seagull, and Ibanez. The knowledge Nickoloff gained from LCCC helps him keep up with his inventory through computers, which has allowed him to take the store into a more online domain.
“In the future, I want to sell more online as opposed to the old idea of mom and pop brick and mortar shops,” he said. “ It all goes back to my beginning with computers at college.”
Nickoloff takes great care with the instruments he buys for the store, even cleaning, polishing, and changing parts out so that they are guaranteed to be in great playing condition for customers.
“I’ve been to the store before and since Jeff took over it’s like a brand new place” Aaron Hurst a criminal justice major, said.
The skills Nickoloff learned at LCCC, have afforded him the ability to achieve success as a business while still getting to play music and teach guitar lessons. Those lessons have been the foundation Ron Zehel’s since 1976 and continue to be so to this very day.
Ron Zehel’s is located at 2284 Kresge drive in Amherst, Ohio 44001.