George Way

The Leedy Drum Company -

U.G. Leedy was an excellent judge of character, and hired departmental managers who maintained his high standards. When he realized the need for a full-time sales manager, he sought out George Way. Way was at the time operating his own drum company in Canada, but Leedy convinced him to give that up and move to Indianapolis. The personable Way was not only a percussionist and salesman, but also an engineer and artist. Many of his contributions changed the percussion industry forever, such as the floating-head concept, self-aligning lug, and pearloid covering on drums. Way created a promotional publication titled Leedy Drum Topics which included playing tips, endorser news, and product introductions.

Way's concepts and rough drawings were often perfected in the engineering department by the talented Cecil Strupe. Strupe was Leedy,s chief Mechanical Engineer and shop superintendent from the early 1920s through the mid 1930s. (In 1937 Strupe left to join William F. Ludwig and William F. Ludwig II when they founded the WFL company. (As a WFL employee, Strupe developed the triple-flanged hoop.)

Floating Heads

Leedy's Way invented the double-flanged hoop, resulting in the "floating head".

In the mid 1920s, both the Leedy company and the Ludwig & Ludwig company (which had by this time grown larger than Leedy in terms of gross sales) began to develop plans for manufacturing banjos. The banjo was a wildly popular instrument at the time, and it seemed at the time to be a natural move. Both firms spent fortunes gearing up for the production of elaborately carved, inlaid, and plated instruments at the worst possible time. Banjo popularity began to wane, and cash flow became something of a crisis.

U.G. Leedy's health began to fail. Knowing that the end was near and wanting to provide for his family and employees, he sold his company to the Conn company in 1929. At nearly the same time, Conn purchased the financially weakened Ludwig & Ludwig. Conn moved both companies to Elkhart where both lines of drums were produced in the same building. George Way and most of the rest of the Leedy executive staff moved to Elkhart and continued their product developments without major disruption. Wm. F. Ludwig had also moved to Elkhart, but found it difficult to work in such an arrangement, and quit to return to Chicago where he founded his own company, WFL, in 1937.

George Way continued to head up the growth and development of the Leedy Drum Company throughout the 1930s as a Conn division.


Leedy Factory
Leedy Factory Circa 1920

Machine  Shop
Leedy Machine Shop 1925

Leedy Exhibit
Leedy Exhibit 1927

Window Display
Leedy Window Display 1933