On March 17, 1997, Scott Sauer and Kevin Pleinis opened Pauer Sound in Aberdeen. Now, over 25 years later, Alex Bartlett has taken over the legacy.
Pauer Sound has changed over the years, both in staff and business operations, but the core of the business has always remained the same.
“We had a passion,” Pleinis said. “Both of us were musicians, so we were a music store for musicians by musicians.”
Sauer was working at Engel Music before they opened, and Pleinis was working at his family’s jewelry shop, Pleinis Jewelry. After a bit of convincing, Sauer and Pleinis set up their shop in the current Red Rooster building with two employees. The name Pauer Sound comes from putting both of their names together, and Pleinis noted it was more pleasant than the alternative “Seinis Sound”.
In the beginning, Sauer focused on the retail side of the business by selling guitars. As their business grew, they began to offer repair services and music lessons.
“A lot of kids who are full-time musicians today started with Pauer Sound lessons,” Pleinis said.
Live music also became a staple at Pauer Sound.
“It was always packed,” Pleinis said. “We had a recording studio and a stage for shows. It all tied in well with the music store.”
The back of the building was set up as a hang-out and practice room, and it now serves as the stage for the Red Rooster’s live shows.
Over the years, the focus of Pauer Sound shifted from retail and lessons to installing sound systems and running the sound events. The store’s transition was a gradual change at first, but they
eventually became the powerhouse they are today. After a few years, Pleinis sold his share of the company to Sauer, but the business’s name, now being a prominent one in the scene, remained the same.
“When Scott and Kevin started, it was kind of scary,” Renita Sauer said. “Scott went from a steady paycheck to this. He started with nothing and went on to build a big company. I’m so proud of him.”
Pauer Sound is present at many events, including the Brown County Fair, the Summer Downtown Concert Series, and the concerts at the Kuhnert Arboretum. While many of the events they work happen right here in Aberdeen, they have also worked events across the state.
“We’ve done shows in Timber Lake to Minnesota to the Canadian border,” Bartlett said.
Pleinis said that most employees were musicians themselves, but Bartlett was a notable exception. He still had a background
Sauer met Bartlett back when he was still a student at Aberdeen Central. Roger McCafferty, who was the theater teacher at Central at the time, got Bartlett interested in theater tech.
“I had two theater classes in the same year, so I was always in the theater,” Bartlett said.
During his sophomore year, Central upgraded their sound system, and Sauer was the one installing it.
Bartlett then worked at a Murder Mystery event at the Ward Hotel, back when it still had a ballroom. Sauer worked that event as well, and that is when he started to teach Bartlett more about the
After high school, Sauer hired him as a part-time employee. When their business moved away from Main Street, Bartlett was hired on full time.
“We invited past clients and friends around Christmas time to get rid of our extra stuff,” Bartlett said.
Sauer then taught Bartlett more about installation after they switched focus, and by the time COVID hit, Bartlett had taken over the business.
He purchased Pauer Sound on March 17, 2023, the same day the shop opened back in 1997. Even though Bartlett had been running things for a while, he didn’t move into Sauer’s office until the purchase was finalized.
After the takeover, business has been growing steadily for Bartlett. He said that right after the takeover, the North Dakota market opened up, which took Pauer Sound to even more events. Many old contracts also stuck with Pauer Sound after the transition as well, so Bartlett has been keeping busy.
“Father’s Day through September is usually completely booked,” Bartlett said. “Some of these events have been working with Pauer Sound for so long you just put those dates in the calendar automatically.”
It goes without saying that Pauer Sound has been integral to the Aberdeen music scene.
“You can stand anywhere here in town and hear the races, NSU events, or Downtown concerts, sometimes all on the same night,” Pleinis said. “Those are all things that Scott installed. It’s pretty cool to claim it all.” //
View more articles about: