Hailun is a little different from most of the other Chinese companies selling pianos in the U.S.: Its founder and owner, Chen Hailun, is an entrepreneur in the Western style, and deeply involved in every aspect of the business. Originally a maker of molds for industrial use, Chen got into the piano business when piano manufacturers started to use his services to make piano parts. In 1998 he bought out the government’s position in his company to better control quality and hiring decisions.
While modern manufacturing methods are fully utilized, the factory also uses a large amount of skilled manual labor. Chen seeks out the best workers by paying considerably higher wages than other piano makers in China, he says, and provides an in-depth training program for his workers, conducted by piano builders and technicians from the U.S. and Europe. He also assists in the training of future piano technicians through an association with a local university. His greatest aspiration, Chen says, is to make the best piano in Asia.
Over the years, much of Chen's technical efforts have gone into maximizing the precision and stability of the pianos and parts his company makes. This is evidenced by the substantial investment in computer-controlled machinery used for precision cutting; the design of keys, keybeds, and other parts to resist warping; and the fact that grand piano actions are actually interchangeable between instruments of the same model (this requires an unusually high level of precision). The pianos themselves exhibit good quality control and intelligence in design. In terms of materials, the company uses maple in grand piano rims, a feature indicative of higher quality and arguably necessary for the best sound. In 2011, the company began sourcing its own supply of the highest-quality Austrian spruce, and plans to make its own soundboards with this spruce for select piano models. Piano Buyer's reviewers have tried out several Hailun grands (see reviews in the Fall 2009, Fall 2010, and Fall 2011 issues) and have been impressed with their musicality.
To help it reach the highest quality standards, Hailun has also hired an impressive group of experts from Japan (Ema Shigeru), Europe (Stephen Paulello, Claire Trichet, Sibin Zlatkovic, Peter Veletzky), and the U.S. (Frank Emerson). In 2009, to oversee and assist with quality control, Hailun hired Rolf Ibach, owner of Rud. Ibach Sohn, one of the oldest and most reputable European piano companies, which closed its doors in 2008 after more than 200 years in business.
Hailun USA has initiated several support programs designed to increase the speed at which service requests are handled, and to measure customer satisfaction. It has also introduced the Hailun Dream Assurance Program, in which the company guarantees, subject to certain limitations, that the sound of any purchased Hailun piano will be to the customer’s liking or, within 90 days of purchase, the company will exchange the piano for another of the same model. Under the company’s Gold Service Program, Hailun dealers are obligated to provide each customer with one free service call between 60 and 180 days after purchase of a piano.
Hailun America is re-introducing the Cline brand to the U.S. market in the form of entry-level models made by Hailun. Chester L. Cline began selling pianos in Tacoma, Washington in the 1880s, and produced pianos under his own name beginning in 1889. He eventually expanded his retail chain throughout the Northwest and, in the 1920s, into California, becoming one of the largest piano dealers in the West. In the 1980s and '90s, pianos bearing the Cline name were made by several manufacturers of entry-level pianos. The company says that the current Cline models are similar to those made by Hailun for some other distributors, and that the company will use these models for testing innovations before using them in Hailun pianos.
Warranty: Hailun — 15 years, parts and labor, to the original owner, transferable to the second owner within the warranty period. Cline — 10 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser. See also the Dream Assurance Program, described above.
HALLET, DAVIS & CO.
Hallet Davis Pianos
11 Holt Drive
Stony Point, New York 10980
Pianos made by: various makers (see text)
This famous old American piano brand dates back to at least 1843 in Boston, and has changed hands many times over the years. It eventually became part of the Aeolian group of piano brands, and instruments bearing the name were manufactured at Aeolian's Memphis plant until that company went out of business in 1985. Subsequently, North American Music began producing Hallet, Davis, & Co. pianos, first in Korea, and now in China.
The Heritage and Signature Collections are made by the Beijing Hsinghai Piano Group, Ltd. (see Beijing Hsinghai), and by the Silbermann Piano Co. The upper-level pianos, known as the Imperial Collection II, are manufactured by Parsons Music, a factory associated with a large chain of music stores in China and Hong Kong, and the third-largest producer of pianos in China.