Making miniature grand pianos is Ron’s third career. He flew jets in his first career, as an Air Force pilot in the Presidential Wing at Washington’s Andrews AFB. Thus, each hand-crafted Wagner miniature grand piano is made with hands that have shaken hands with six U.S. Presidents, three First Ladies, two Vice-Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Cabinet heads, Ambassadors, astronauts, cosmonauts, Generals and Admirals.
In his second career, instead of jetting all over the country, Ron stayed home, writing about 100 Internet books that sold more than 10,000,000 copies. He also wrote two weather books, ghost-wrote four business books, and enjoyed an eight-year run of his own Sunday newspaper comic strip.
In his third career, Ron’s heart turned to a Wagner family tradition that dates back more than 80 years: making miniature grand piano music boxes. He’s refined his dad’s original design into a modern marvel that blends digital technology and artistic craftsmanship. Today’s Wagner pianos play real piano music, and yet each one is hand-crafted art.
Ron’s dad originated the Wagner grand piano music box in 1936. He sold them in a gift shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, where Shirley Temple’s aunt bought one for Shirley’s eighth birthday. Years later, he put an engagement ring in one and proposed to Ron’s mom. Lucky for Ron, she took them both.
With the Wagner miniature pianos playing a major part in family lore, Ron longed to make them himself. After two previous careers, he finally had the time. So he redesigned them to be intricately detailed, precision models of a real grand piano. And he blended them with digital technology so that instead of playing one song on a wind-up movement, the Wagner miniature grands play real piano music.
Ron is deeply grateful to do something that has lasting results. There was nothing tangible about flying jets—even with Presidents in them—nor was writing technical books that soon become outdated. But now he makes treasured family heirlooms. And he loves that!