Drumstick maker Ron Vater died on January 25, 2020. Born on January 25, 1957, Vater spent much of his youth at Jack’s Drum Shop in Boston, which was owned by his grandfather, Jack Adams, who would take Ron and his brother, Alan, to see such drummers as Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, and Elvin Jones when they played in Boston.
During his late teens and early twenties, Ron helped run C. Vater Music Center in Norwood, Mass. along with Alan and their father, the late Clarence “Clarry” Vater. When the store experienced a drumstick supply issue from a well-known manufacturer, Ron and Alan started turning their own drumsticks for the store. This was the beginning of the Vater drumstick business.
The Vater brothers drumstick manufacturing became a full-time endeavor in the mid-1980s. They were soon producing drumsticks for Pearl, Tama, and numerous drum shops across the USA. Vic Firth asked the Vaters to manufacture hickory drumsticks for his own brand. Ron and Alan worked closely with Vic at their factory designing many of Vic Firth’s models that still exist in the market today. That led to the design and manufacturing of Zildjian drumsticks and many other brands, until the Vater brand was launched in 1991. While the family continued to manufacture drumsticks for others, as they still do today, the Vater brand became their main focus.
Being mechanically inclined, Ron Vater oversaw the activities on the Vater factory floor. He would troubleshoot, maintain, set up, and operate the machines, all while teaching other workers, including his son Dante. Ron would sharpen the knives for the lathes and keep an eye on the quality control portion of the factory floor production process.
According to a post on the Vater website, “Ron loved Vater Percussion. He loved his high school sweetheart and wife of many years, Susan. He loved their boys, Eric and Dante Vater. He loved cars, fishing, spending time with friends and the many Vater artists that became part of his extended family over these years. He loved that the drumsticks Vater Percussion made were being used around the world by passionate musicians. Ron Vater will be missed by all those who knew him and worked with him. His passion and commitment to manufacturing the best drumsticks in the world will be carried on by the Vater Family, the many dedicated Vater Percussion employees and by all of you who create music and express your percussive passion with Vater products.”