Ocoee man goes from executive chef to master drum builder

Marc Hayward handcrafts drums outside his home

OCOEE, Fla. – Ten years ago, Marc Hayward, an Ocoee local, switched careers, going from the restaurant business to the carpentry business.

Eventually, the New York native took his carpentry skills to another level and into percussion. 

"I was 13 when I became obsessed with drums and it's never stopped," Hayward said. 

His love for percussion grew stronger over time and it eventually turned into a drumming career. On the weekends, he would play for hardcore punk, heavy metal, rock and jazz bands. On other days, he worked in the restaurant industry but eventually he left the business. 

In 2009, he ventured into a new project: building his first snare drum. 

"The first one I built luckily turned out great and my friend used it to record something and from there, I got pretty inspired," Hayward said.

That inspiration led him to become a master drum builder and founder of Hayward Drum Company. 

"(When) I pick up a piece of wood and I can feel the density, I can feel how heavy it is -- kind of give it a tap and if it's got a good voice, I can pretty much guarantee it's gonna be a good material for a snare drum," the 49-year-old said.

Right outside his home in Ocoee, Hayward builds custom drums. It takes him about 14 hours to make one snare drum. The process starts with picking the wood, cutting, sanding, gluing together and painting. Most of Hayward's clients leave the design up to him. 

"My clientele is probably the mid-level to high-level drummer that's maybe a collector.  Almost all the drummers at UCF that are on the faculty have one of my drums," Hayward said. "Some folks in Nashville have them and just collectors in general who love a good drum."

He's currently looking for a storefront to open up next year in West Orange County. 

For Hayward, it's not about making money. It's about making drums that will sound better than anyone else's.

"My main priority is to make it the best sounding snare drum that they've ever played. I want to spend the next 20 to 25 years being the drum guy in Orlando," he said.

Hayward is currently collecting percussion instruments to donate to East Ridge High School after a fire in the band room destroyed the instruments. Anyone who would like to donate can contact Hayward through his website or Facebook page.

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