Gibson's Instrumental Leadership

Dec. 21, 2004
Gibson Guitar Corp. Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz sees his new, handpicked executive team as the key to future success.

Henry Juszkiewicz started his career in manufacturing and was educated through the General Motors Institute, Flint, Mich., ultimately receiving an M.B.A. from Harvard University on a GM scholarship while working for Delco Products, a GM division. After GM he worked in middle-market mergers, turned around a struggling tech firm in the early '80s, and in 1986, with two partners acquired a faltering Gibson Guitar. The Nashville-based company, on the brink of closure when Juszkiewicz stepped in, has averaged 20% annual growth during the last decade.

IW: You've recently hired a chief marketing officer [Craig Braasch] and a chief financial officer [Anthony Crudele] as part of your strategy. Whom else have you hired and why are you doing this?

Juszkiewicz: I have had several major hires that essentially allowed me to build an outstanding hard-charging executive team. It really started when I was fortunate enough to have Rob Senn join our company [in early 2003] as a chief operating officer. He was essential in giving me the time to pursue recruiting on a more aggressive basis. Additional hires at the executive level are Greg Batusic, chief sales officer/senior vice president of global sales; Joel Cherry, general counsel/senior vice president; Roger Mitchell, chief strategic planning officer/executive vice president; Kris Carter, president of the Gibson Audio Division; and Jim Druckery, COO of the Gibson Audio Division. In addition to exceptional experience in closely related industries, I was looking for a "fire in the belly" -- a sense of aggressive pursuit of excellence combined with a risk-taking entrepreneurial bent.

IW: Why is this the right strategy for Gibson now?

Juszkiewicz: My goal for Gibson has been to achieve No. 1 market share in the area of musical instrument/music audio. We have diversified by buying other brands that have a rich history and had been leaders in their field. We are very much a global company, with about 50% of our sales taking place outside the U.S. We have within the last year invested in a wholly owned manufacturing facility in Tsing Tao, China, and a trading company in Shanghai. And we are restructuring our distribution and marketing operations in the EU to attend to that market in a fashion more appropriate to the changed environment in Europe. Additionally, the world is going digital, and the way music is bought and produced is changing rapidly. Gibson this year introduced its MaGIC digital protocol for musical instruments and potentially home audio/video equipment. Our size and rapid growth demanded a larger and more sophisticated team to lead the business. In fact, we have built a team of creative, aggressive, success-driven tigers.

IW: How did you determine what functional areas required new leadership?

Juszkiewicz: The organization is structured around classic organization departments: sales, operations, marketing, finance, etc. I am a strong believer in basic proven business practices. At the same time, our organization has implemented unique and cutting-edge ways of structuring divisions and their relationships to corporate functions that reflect a matrix management control scheme.

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