NAMM: Gibson CEO reflects on 20 years at the helm

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Twenty years ago this week Henry Juszkiewicz and two former Harvard classmates, David Berryman and Gary Zebrowski, completed the acquisition of one of the most famous guitar manufacturers in the world, Gibson. Juszkiewicz sat with Macworld at the NAMM tradeshow in Anaheim, Calif. and talked about his time leading the company.

Gibson reported losses of $12.6 million in 1985, the year before Juszkiewicz took it over. As a guitar player himself, Juszkiewicz identified with the Gibson brand, but was saddened by how the company had fallen.

“Gibson is something I understood,” said Juszkiewicz. “I was shocked when I saw what became of it, but I knew I could get it back. Looking back, we have exceeded where I ever thought we would go.”

When it comes to technology, Juszkiewicz said he is always keeping in touch with trends in the market and would often visit companies that had intriguing technologies.

One technology that Gibson is especially proud of is its digital guitar. When shipped, the guitar will come equipped with a traditional 1/4-inch plug and an Ethernet port. While Juszkiewicz had hoped to release the guitar last year, a problem with the Hex Pickup held up the release.

Juszkiewicz said the guitar wasn’t released because his company believes in excellence, not just making a dollar.

“If it was just a promotion or a money thing, then sure we could have released it, but it just wasn’t right,” said Juszkiewicz.

The problem with the pickup was found and fixed in December. While no official release date was available for the guitar, Juszkiewicz said things are moving quickly now.

Juszkiewicz said he has no retirement plans, calling his position at Gibson as “one of the best gigs in the world.”

Whether looking at new technology or new guitar models, for Gibson it always comes back to one basic fact.

“Ultimately, playing the guitar is an art form — that is the core of Gibson’s culture,” said Juszkiewicz.

This story, "NAMM: Gibson CEO reflects on 20 years at the helm" was originally published by PCWorld.

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