Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack, seen here at the company’s annual GearFest event.
Ft. Wayne, IN (September 4, 2015)—The old saying goes “You’ve got to spend money to make money,” and it looks like Sweetwater Sound plans to do a lot of both. The MI/pro audio retailer announced extensive plans Thursday to expand the physical footprint of its 320,000-square-foot campus and add an anticipated 285 additional employees by 2018.
The new jobs are expected to raise the company’s workforce to more than 1,000 full-time employees. Creating space for them will be part of the sweeping $8.8 million plan that will include several expansion projects and renovations. First among those efforts breaking ground this fall will be a 16,000-square-foot building to house the company’s marketing and merchandising departments, as well as a video production studio intended for sales and branding efforts.
In a statement, founder and president Chuck Surack noted, “Sweetwater continues to grow at a remarkable pace, both in sales and in number of employees. In 2014, sales were up by 28 percent over the previous year, and we anticipate similar results for 2015.” Similarly, the company’s number of employees has been growing 15 percent each year. Faced with that, previously in 2012, Sweetwater announced plans to invest $23.5 million to expand its headquarters by 110,000-square-feet and create more than 300 jobs.
As the expansion will aid Sweetwater’s local community, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Northeast Indiana Works, and the City of Fort Wayne have put together an incentive package for the company valued at $3,117,089; the IEDC’s contributions include up to $2 million in conditional tax credits, along with up to $50,000 in training grants—none of which can be claimed until all 285 new employees are hired.
It’s all a far cry from Sweetwater’s comparatively humble beginnings as a four-track recording studio in 1979. Today, the company is believed to be the third largest music instrument audio dealer in the United States, and the top online retailer of music instruments and audio gear.