The Gretsch Company celebrates 130 years

The Gretsch Company, makers of instruments for well-known artists as Chet Atkins, George Harrison, and Brian Setzer, celebrates its 130th anniversary this year.
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The Gretsch Company, an American family-owned business, celebrates its 130th anniversary this year and is making plans for its next 100 years. In 1883, German immigrant Friedrich Gretsch launched what would one day become an iconic American guitar and drum maker for such well-known artists as Chet Atkins, George Harrison, Charlie Watts, Chick Webb and Brian Setzer among many others.

According to a recent study conducted by Family Enterprise USA, there are 5.5 million family businesses in the U.S. that contribute $8.3 trillion or 57 percent of the U.S. GDP, employ 63 percent of the workforce and are responsible for 78 percent of all new job creation.

The Gretsch Company has outlasted the majority of family-owned businesses that typically see a life span of 24 years according to About 40 percent of U.S. family-owned businesses turn into second-generation businesses, while approximately 13 percent are passed down successfully to a third generation, and only three percent to a fourth or beyond according to Businessweek. Remarkably, The Gretsch Company has seen six generations of family members who have been active in the business and remain so today.

Women are increasingly playing key management roles in family businesses with nearly 60 percent of all family-owned businesses placing women in top management team positions according to a 2007 Mass Mutual American Family Business Survey. This is also true of The Gretsch Company with matriarch Dinah Gretsch's active involvement in the daily operations of the company.

"The past 130 years have been quite an amazing musical journey for the Gretsch Family," said company president Fred Gretsch. "And today, the family is still deeply involved with customers, dealers, artists as well as the manufacturing and marketing aspects of the business. And we are very pleased to build that level of family connection, pride and value into all of the great instruments that we put into musicians' hands."

The future of The Gretsch Company looks to be in good hands with Fred and Dinah Gretsch's oldest daughter currently working in the business and several Gretsch grandchildren expressing interest in joining the company as well.

"Antonio Stradivarius also made amazing stringed instruments and led a prosperous life," says Gretsch. "But his family did not benefit from his name and his designs. I want to ensure that the Gretsch family remains a key part of this company for the next 100 years of business."

About The Gretsch Company
The Gretsch Company was founded in 1883 in Brooklyn, N.Y. as banjo, drum and tambourine manufacturer. The privately held company, celebrating 130 years in business this year and headquartered in Savannah, Ga., has seen six generations of family ownership. Gretsch products are currently sold in the United States and 112 countries worldwide.

For more information about the Gretsch Company, visit