Hal Leonard Distribution Center Tour

by Tim Cose, Hal Leonard

The RPMDA convention-goers toured the Hal Leonard Corporation facilities on the Wednesday before the convention began. This left plenty of time for attendees to discuss the distribution and production systems and facilities. Our perspective as the audience was unanimous: the Hal Leonard team in Winona took us all on an extraordinary journey through the creation and circulation of print music. But we didn’t get to hear the other side of the story. Before the quick pictorial recap, here are some thoughts from the hard-working people behind the tours themselves:

“The tour was delightful! To see people face to face, and their reaction to our facilities and how we operate day to day was truly special. That kind of things keeps all of us motivated.”

Jean Papenfuss, Customer Service and Credit Manager, tour guide

“The tour was a great experience! The last time we had tours, I was still new and only watched. This time I presented on how we schedule our production. Seeing all the people coming through and getting to hear questions right from our end customers was a great experience.”

Erin Sturm, Sr Project Planner, tour presenter

“Both our tour guides and employee presenters were excited to be able to have the one on one contact with Hal Leonard customers. For the people who are usually only behind the scenes, it was a gratifying opportunity to demonstrate their role in the publishing and retailing industry. He had a lot of fun and it turned into a great team-building event.”

Mindy Czaplewski, Chief Operations Officer

The Hal Leonard tours began with a two-hour drive and the groups split into two buses: a sports bus and a business bus (the two Minnesota passions). Trivia, anecdotes, and treats made for a quick drive.


Tours through the distribution center wound through the high-velocity pick area shown here and followed books through a tour of the put to light and sort to light systems that are used to sort batches of picked orders into their individual shipping boxes.

Iris and Norm discuss the Weigh In Motion (WIM) system that makes sure no box ships missing that critical special-order horn concerto. Hal Leonard uses a three-check system: the picker checks the item number, the packer scans the barcode, and finally the WIM double checks that the final weight is correct.


After the distribution center, the Hal Leonard tour passed through the production facilities. Below, one of the digital conversion specialists cleans up a scan of an older piece so that it can be stored digitally and reprinted on modern equipment.

This is the control panel of one of Hal Leonard’s Heidelberg Speedmaster presses. We’re told it doubles as a great big-screen for Viking games.

After printing, books and octavos are collated on the machine above at a rate of thousands per hour. As the book rides along the lower track, the machine drops pages down from the stacks above. After collating and binding, the print music is ready to be transferred to the distribution center for shipping.

The Hal Leonard Winona team were wonderful hosts for over one hundred tour attendees, providing an exclusive glimpse into the state-of-the-art printing and distribution facilities. The tour was a great pre-convention experience to add perspective and context for the RPMDA convention.