Paul and Teresa Jennings started Plank Road Publishing in an old farmhouse - their home - on Watertown Plank Road in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, back in 1990. In the beginning there were three employees, but soon two more were added. After three years of steady growth and a few more employees, the company outgrew the living room, dining room, bathroom, and offices of the old house. And so, everything and everyone was moved to a small building in the village of Elm Grove, not even a mile from the farmhouse.
The new building was situated beside an idyllic little creek, across from a park. There were geese and ducks and beautiful trees all around. At first, Plank Road Publishing only occupied the front offices of the building, but slowly it acquired more and more space until finally it occupied all of the structure. During this time, even more employees joined in. The company remained at this location until in August 1998 it was forced to move once again when the "little" creek became much larger and flooded the building and all the surrounding areas.
A new home was found very quickly in Brookfield, just a few miles north; and, thanks to the efforts of many wonderful employees and friends, Plank Road Publishing was back up on its feet and running again within a few months. Plank Road remained at that location for 15 years.
In 2013 the company took a big, exciting step and purchased its own building, located on Plank Court, just a mile or two down the road from its original home. The company is ever growing, presently with over 50 full-time, part-time, and temporary employees.
Plank Road Publishing began in--and, after the flood, briefly returned to--Paul and Teresa Jennings' house.
Almost anyone can be a music publisher. All it takes is some music and enough money to hire a printer. When we sat down in our old farmhouse in 1990, we wanted to plan a publishing company that would do more. We wanted to help elementary and middle school music teachers change the world for themselves and their students. If we are to believe the teachers who have used our products so far, we are doing just that.
Over the years, teachers have used our music to reach their toughest students, to bring their audiences to tears, and to unite entire schools in programs to save the planet. Our music has helped students stay in school, it has helped them avoid drugs, and it has helped them learn more about the world they live in. Most important, though, we are proud that our products have helped teachers show how valuable music is in our lives as it has reached millions of students, parents, and administrators.
Staff pose in front of the Elm Grove location in 1998. Plank Road was forced to relocate after the flood, but probably would have soon outgrown the facility.
Founding Principles of Plank Road Publishing
- Our products are educationally sound and designed to motivate today's children. While we create products that are contemporary and exciting for students, we build on timeless concepts that allow teachers to use these products for years to come.
- Our products are priced and packaged to provide high value for educators with limited budgets, educators who often have to pay for materials out of their own pockets.
- We always treat our customers as we would want to be treated. All of our products are fully guaranteed, and when you call us, you get a real person, a friendly one who cares about your music and your order.
- As a company, we respect the environment, using recycled paper, soy ink, and packaging with the least environmental impact. Consequently, we don't shrink-wrap our products or use plastic "peanuts."
By October 2001, the number of staff members had grown considerably. Not all Plankers are shown.
Staff members gathered again in 2010 for a group photo when Music K-8, Vol. 20, No. 5 was about to go to press. Not all Plankers are shown.