Meet the Farmers
Founder + Creative Engineer + Visionary
A teacher and historian by trade, Pete is a self-taught musician, craftsman, and businessman, following his passions for music, design, and working with his hands. He is the brains behind all Farmer Foot Drums instruments and singlehandedly took the ideas in his head and turned them into a full-time business. He works with intense focus and dedication and has been known to lose all sense of time and forget to eat when he gets going.
Pete has been drawn to music his entire life and has always enjoyed playing for friends and busking on the streets of Seattle, his home town. Although he now spends most of his time working in the shop and doesn't get to play as much music as he would like, he loves knowing that his creations are helping others find their own sound and captivate audiences in new ways. This business would not exist without the support and backing of his family and friends, and he is grateful for the love and encouragement he receives to see this dream through.
Operations Manager + Communications
Although Kate has been always been an ardent supporter of Pete and the business, she recently officially joined in and now works alongside him to make this a true family-run operation. The ying to Pete's yang, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of running a small business and gets a kick out of things like spreadsheets and QuickBooks. She wears many hats, from bookkeeping to communicating with customers and getting packages out the door.
A Michigan native, Kate met Pete while on a glorious adventure in Washington State. They married in 2008 and now have three young children.
The History of Farmer Musical Instrument Company
The Farmer FootDrum, flagship of Farmer Musical Instruments, was first conceived while Pete was listening to John Lee Hooker in his woodshop in 2003. He could hear his feet tapping rhythmic beats to accompany his guitar and voice - but it sounded as if he had a drummer playing with him. Pete wondered if it would be possible for his feet to create a sound richer than simple tapping and he sketched out a design for a foot-played acoustic drum kit with multiple sounds. Using portability, great sound, and durability as the guiding principals in my design, he eventually constructed a crude contraption.
Pete built it for himself and enjoyed busking around Seattle and playing for friends. He decided to officially start up his own business in the fall of 2005 after hearing too many folks ask to buy it out from under his feet. After launching the business, he still worked by day as a high school teacher and spent his nights toiling away in a rented single car garage to advance his designs and build a foot played drum kit with shakers, tambourines, snare, bass and more. In 2008, the universe (or at least the economy) conspired and pushed him into the business full time. While it certainly felt like a leap of faith, he knew he had enough passion and drive to make it happen. Moreover, the encouragement and support from strangers, family, and friends spurred him on.
He came to realize, after too many long days alone in the cold, crowded garage, that he needed help. Pete was lucky to find Kerry Carlson, of Innovative Manufacturing in Ferndale, Washington. Kerry had the tools, knowledge and generous spirit to bring his business and products to a higher level. Kerry unveiled a new world of parts, machines, jigs, catalogs, and contraptions that lead to a much better product, made with less waste and less time. In addition to refining the FootDrum, Pete had the tools to dream up additional instruments. He now has a full product line to be played by the head, hands, and feet.
In 2013, Kate gave birth to twins and needed to take a break from her teaching career. Pete was overwhelmed by the needs of his growing business and family and decided it was time to find some help. These circumstances eventually lead to joining forces, with Kate's main role being to take care of as much as possible so that Pete can focus on what he does best: designing and building instruments. A recent move to Michigan has allowed them to build a dream workshop and they are excited about what the future holds for their business and family!