The Gretsch Company, one of the world’s most well-known drum and guitar manufacturers, received the Cox Family Enterprise Center’s 2007 Georgia Family Business of the Year Award at a reception at the Cobb Galleria Center in Atlanta on May 23. Based in Savannah, GA, the company was recognized for its enduring commitment to manufacturing professional quality, hand-crafted instruments for nearly 125 years.
The Gretsch Company was the recipient of the 2007 Century Award, designated for family businesses at least 100 years old. President Fred W. Gretsch attended the awards ceremony along with his wife and company CFO, Dinah Gretsch. Upon receiving the Century Award, Fred shared insights into the company’s remarkable history as well as his thoughts on family and business.
“It’s quite an honor to be recognized by Cox Family Enterprise Center for our work over the last 124 years,” said President Fred W. Gretsch. “I believe that it is our passion for great music, commitment to family and dedication to producing quality instruments that have brought Gretsch continued success through four generations.”
The Gretsch Company began in 1883 when Fred’s great-grandfather, Friedrich Gretsch, a German immigrant, started making banjos, tambourines and other instruments in Brooklyn, NY. The company’s popularity grew with the emergence of rockabilly and rock-n-roll, attracting famous artists like George Harrison, Bo Diddley and Charlie Watts.
In 1967 The Gretsch Company was sold to Baldwin, but without the family dedication that had driven the business for so many years, the company began to falter. As a testament to his passion for the family business, the company’s current president, Fred W. Gretsch, vowed to one day regain control of The Gretsch Company. In 1985, he made good on his promise and soon moved operations to Savannah, Ga., where the revitalized company began to offer new, vintage-styled Gretsch guitars and classic Gretsch drums. The success of the new products was immediate and The Gretsch Company once again became the leading force known by the music industry today.
According to research conducted by American Management Services, Inc., only 40 percent of American family-owned businesses survive to the second generation, 12 percent to the third and three percent to the fourth generation. The Gretsch Company is among that small percentage of fourth-generation companies.
Today, many studio musicians prefer Gretsch guitars and drums because of their unique tonal quality and hand-made craftsmanship. The company’s strong commitment to community service is also well known throughout the industry; last year Gretsch awarded five college scholarships and donated numerous guitars for school fundraisers across the country. The Gretsch family was also an early major sponsor of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
“The Gretsch Company is gearing up for another century of excellence” said Dinah Gretsch. “We look forward to an exciting future creating that great Gretsch sound.”
About The Gretsch Company
Founded in 1883 as a small musical instrument shop in Brooklyn, NY, The Gretsch Company, now based in Savannah, Ga., has produced some of the world’s greatest drums and guitars over the span of four generations. With its emphasis on hand-craftsmanship and commitment to quality, Gretsch has pioneered new designs and manufacturing techniques, winning endorsements from some of the music industry’s most respected artists, including Chet Atkins, Charlie Watts, Neil Young and Phil Collins. Gretsch also owns and manufactures some of the other most popular and historic music industry products and brands including; Bigsby® Vibratos, Leedy® Drums and Sho-Bud® Pedal Steel Guitars. The company has strong worldwide ties with musical giants Fender and Kaman, placing the Gretsch name in concert halls and recording studios around the globe.
About the Awards Program
The Cox Family Enterprise Center’s Georgia Family Business of the Year Awards began in 1991 to honor the tremendous and positive contributions provided by the state’s family firms, large and small. Winners are chosen on the basis of their proven business success, positive family and business linkage, multi-generational family business involvement, contributions to industry and community and innovative business practices and strategy. Other winners included Blalock Machinery & Equipment, Bowen Family Homes and Southwire Company.