In 1984, Neal Graham from The Percussion Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana at the recommendation of Ray Weiner encouraged Bernie (who was age 22 at the time) to come to Fort Wayne to be his primary drum shop technician. During his tenure with The Percussion Center, which lasted until 1989, Bernie was exposed to various high-profile projects and had the opportunity to build tour kits for well-known groups and musicians such as Neil Peart of Rush, Jack Grondin and Steve Brookins of 38 Special, "Wild" Mick Brown of Dokken, the late Eric Carr of KISS, Bill Cobham and two tours of John Mellencamp with Kenny Aronoff on drums. 

One of the highlights of this career came in 1988, when Bernie was presented with a platinum album celebrating 1 million copies sold of the Dokken album "Back for the Attack". The award was sent to Bernie in appreciation for his customizing Wild Mick Brown's Monsters of Rock drum kit – a five-piece Tama he painted in a custom finish that Bernie called Brilliant Ruby Metallic.