MUSICIAN’S FRIEND ANNOUNCES
NEW POSITION FOR CRAIG JOHNSON AND PAYS TRIBUTE TO FOUNDER, ROB EASTMAN
— Company enjoys a historic look back while preparing for future
MEDFORD, OR, November 6, 2008 — As the
company celebrates its 25th anniversary, Musician’s Friend, Inc.
(MF), the largest direct response retailer of musical instruments and
gear in the U.S., and a division of Guitar Center since 1999, announces
that company founder Robert Eastman is stepping down from his day-to-day
functions and assuming the role of Chairman Emeritus, effective January
1, 2009. Craig Johnson will fill the position of Chief Executive Officer
(CEO), continuing to fulfill the vision Eastman set for MF, while moving
the company into new territory. Eastman will continue to have a presence
within MF, serving as advisor to Johnson.
Musician’s Friend was founded in 1983 by Eastman
and his wife DeAnna. The company rapidly grew from a modest mail order
house garage startup – which was soon moved to an honest-to-goodness
Oregon dairy barn – into the country’s largest direct marketer
of music gear. Musician’s Friend’s success over the last
25 years can be attributed to Eastman’s vision, determination
and ingenuity, as well as his selection of a premier team of associates.
“For several years, we have been building a world-class
management team,” states Eastman. “With a solid management
team in place, I decided that at the end of the year I will move into
a Chairman Emeritus role and that Craig Johnson will become CEO. I look
forward to getting to spend more time with my family and having time
to travel and, of course, go fishing!”
Johnson assumes his new role as CEO after serving as Musician’s
Friend’s President and Chief Operating Officer for the last two
and a half years. Before that, he served as MF’s Executive Vice
President of Merchandising and Marketing and Senior VP of Merchandising.
His background with MF and other companies – including Oriental
Trading Company, Golfsmith International, Coldwater Creek, Time Warner
and others – has given him experience in distribution, supply
management and direct marketing, providing him with a unique perspective
to help him lead in today’s e-commerce world.
Eastman is confident in Johnson’s skills to lead
Musician’s Friend. He states, “I’ve known for a few
years now that Craig was going to be the one to replace me as CEO —
he not only has all the skill sets, but he also has been instrumental
in continuing to build on our vision for the future.”
…section ends 378 words
Robert Eastman and Musician’s Friend: A
Brief History, 1983-Present
From an early age, Robert Eastman was destined for success in the music
industry. His father and mother, L.V. “Bud” and Maxine Eastman,
founded Guitar Player in 1967 and taught the young Rob their visionary
leadership style and encouraged him to take charge of another Eastman
creation, Musician’s Supply, the first music industry consumer
catalog. By the age of 13, Rob was working full-time at Musician’s
Supply, and by the age of 17 he was running the company. From 1975 to
1982, he was in charge of all facets of the mail order business and
a related retail store and was responsible for $24 million in sales
and 80+ employees. Shifting economic realities convinced Rob and his
parents to close the company in 1982.
In 1983, Rob and his wife DeAnna launched Musician’s
Friend, selling guitar strings and accessories from their garage and,
eventually, a converted dairy barn. The company’s beginnings were
humble, but the multitude of music industry contacts and long-term relationships
that Rob had already developed gave them an advantage.
Over the next several years, Rob, DeAnna and Musician’s
Friend experienced many key milestones. In 1989, the company moved from
the dairy barn to a 6,500-square-foot fulfillment center, also adding
a Medford, Oregon showroom. Al Dinardi, Rob’s brother-in-law,
partnered with him and ran merchandising and catalog production, as
he truly influenced the people side of the MF culture. In 1990, rapid
growth fostered sales that topped $5 million. In 1992, a 36,000-square-foot
headquarters was constructed, also in Medford. Sales continued to grow
rapidly, surpassing $25 million in 1993 and supporting over 100 employees.
In 1994, MF launched its first proprietary product brands. In 1996,
a second showroom was opened and the pioneering MF website was launched.
In 1997, the company opened two large-format showrooms and a 44,000-square-foot
Knoxville fulfillment center. 1998 saw the opening of five more showrooms
and a 400-seat-capacity call center in Salt Lake City.
By 1999, the company had grown to include nine retail
stores, and the company operated the largest e-commerce site in the
music industry and, needless to say, the world’s largest music
mail order catalog. Total sales surpassed $150 million. Through a pooling
of shares, in that year Musician’s Friend merged into Guitar Center,
creating the world’s largest combined music retail, catalog and
e-commerce company, with over half a billion dollars in combined revenues.
In the years since the merger, Guitar Center and its subsidiaries have
experienced unprecedented growth, maintaining their status as the United
States’ number one retailer of musical instruments, pro audio,
recording equipment and related products in several hundred retail stores,
in catalog form and online. In 2007, Woodwind & Brasswind and Music123
became a division of Musician’s Friend, and MF opened a 703,000
sq. ft. distribution center in Kansas City.
Rob gives a reflective signoff to his Musician’s
Friend colleagues and industry associates and friends as he moves into
the next stage of his life: “I have taken great pride in working
side-by-side with you. Between now and the end of the year, Craig and
I will complete the transition. It’s been a tremendous 25 years
for me and DeAnna, and one heck of a ride. Even though Musician’s
Friend is all grown up, she will always be our baby. Thanks for your
friendship, your hard work, your dedication, and for all the memories.”
…section ends 554 words
…document ends 941 words
Photo File 1: RobEastman.JPG
Photo File 2: CraigJohnson.JPG
Photo File 3: JohnsonEastman_Fishing.JPG
Photo Caption: Pictured L-R: Craig Johnson and Robert Eastman, on a
recent fishing trip.
About Musician’s Friend
Musician’s Friend, Inc., is the largest direct response retailer
of musical instruments in the U.S. Through marketing and merchandising
music products in their catalog and on their web site, www.musiciansfriend.com,
the Company offers consumers a complete selection of string, fretted,
band and orchestra instruments, sound reinforcement and recording equipment,
drums, keyboards, and associated musical accessories. In addition to
corporate offices based in Medford, Oregon, Musician’s Friend
maintains a contact center/customer service operation based in Draper,
Utah (a suburb of Salt Lake City), and a state-of-the-art distribution
center in Kansas City, Missouri.
Musician’s Friend is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guitar Center,
the nation’s leading retailer of guitars, amplifiers, percussion
instruments, keyboards, live-sound/DJ and recording equipment. Other
brand or product names may be trademarks of the respective companies
with which they are associated.
MEDIA CONTACT: Robert Clyne, Clyne Media, at (615) 662-1616