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Local business to help build 9/11 monument

By September, one business in Peoria will help to complete a new national monument called “The Tower of Voices.”

The U.S. National Park service is currently constructing the 93-foot tall structure, which will include 40 wind chimes to signify the 40 passengers and crewmembers of United Flight 93, which crashed in a rural Pennsylvania field as part of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Brett Fugate is the owner of Fugate Inc., a small business that builds and tunes percussion instruments in Peoria. He has been constructing the 40 chimes for The Tower of Voices alongside a few of his employees since December of last year.

“[The Tower of Voices] really is designed to allow the heroes to have their voices heard throughout time,” Fugate said.

According to the National Park Service’s website, “There are no other chime structures like this in the world.”

However, this originality presents a unique set of difficulties, according to Fugate.

“In a way, it’s challenging because we’re the first people to do something like this … This is not the biggest instrument in the world … but it is pretty large in scope,” he said.

Each chime varies from approximately 5 to 10 feet in length, depending on the frequency needed to create the music notes.

After working for three instrument manufacturers and starting his own business in 2013, Fugate said he has 25 years of percussion instrument tuning experience to apply to making these chimes. When the most recent manufacturer he worked for closed their factory in Chicago, Fugate said he decided to start fresh.

“I was severed from the company, and instead of trying to find a job in my graduate field or working for somebody else, I thought it was a good opportunity to … start my own business,” he said.

So Fugate turned to Bradley’s Turner School of Entrepreneurship to help his business take shape. His primary source was Bradley’s connection with the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center, PTAC, an organization that helps contract small businesses with governmental agencies or larger businesses.

For example, Fugate said PTAC has helped him with writing proposals, including his proposal for the chimes for the Tower of Voices. He primarily works with Keli Krueger-Huhra, director of the Illinois PTAC at Bradley.

Krueger-Huhra called PTAC “a well kept secret that we don’t want to be a secret anymore,” and said that she often works on promoting PTAC as a resource for small businesses.

“The most important part [of PTAC] is letting businesses know that there’s assistance out there, that there is a resource that they can go to for information and somebody that will provide them a helping hand,” Krueger-Huhra said.

According to Krueger-Huhra, she finds that PTAC can help with the numerous tasks a small business owner has.

“As a small business owner, you’re doing everything yourself,” Krueger-Huhra said. “It’s not like a [large] business that can go out and hire somebody and say, ‘OK, you’re going to do government contracting’ … but as [a small business owner], you’re doing payroll, you’re doing jobs because you have the expertise, so for all the balls you are juggling, you have somebody at PTAC who can help you take one of those areas … and that’s one less thing you have to focus on.”

For more information, visit Fugate Inc. on Facebook or online at http://fugatedrums.com/.

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