Joe Nichols was born in DeRidder, Louisiana and received his secondary education in Louisiana public schools. Joe first saw a pipe organ when he was seven years old, and his love affair with the instrument dates from that very first encounter. By the age of thirteen he had read every book on pipe organs in the Louisiana State University library. After graduation from high school, Joe attended McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana as an organ major. Several master organbuilders played important roles in forming Joe’s decision to become an organbuilder. J. C. Williams of New Orleans and Otto Hoffman of Austin, Texas were two of the most influential. In 1977, when Lecil Gibson offered Joe a position working with him, Joe decided to make Little Rock his home. In 1979, Mr. Gibson incorporated his company, and Joe became a principal in the firm, which later became Gibson-Nichols, Inc. During this association, the firm completed new organs and rebuilds totaling 220 ranks, as well as maintaining an extensive tuning and service business. In 1983, Nichols made the decision to form his own company in order to fulfill his personal long-range goals in the profession of organbuilding. His partner in this venture was Wayne Simpson.
Wayne Simpson is a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He graduated from Arkansas public schools and attended Henderson State University as a voice major. Wayne’s interest in the organ was kindled by Robert Ellis, the organ instructor at Henderson. Love of the organ led Wayne to seek out the only local organbuilder, Lecil Gibson. He worked with Mr. Gibson for six years beginning in 1977, before joining his co-worker, Joe Nichols, in forming NICHOLS & SIMPSON, INC., ORGANBUILDERS.