She never had a dream of becoming the next Janis Joplin. Although she has eclectic musical interests, a career in music was not necessarily on her radar. Cyndi Fritz was not a musician, but she responded to a help wanted advertisement in 1991.
Dick Boak, now C. F. Martin & Co.’s director of artist and public relations, was instrumental in Fritz’s hire. He tells people that it’s the “best thing he’s done.” “That’s what he says,” joked Fritz. “He has a knack for making people feel really well. We worked together for several years after that, and continue to have a great working relationship.”
“I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Fritz. “So I didn’t venture too far away when I joined C. F. Martin & Co. I always enjoyed being creative. I pursued my love of the visual arts. I studied commercial art and began my career working in the graphic arts industry, which included advertising, printing and corporate communications. I started at Martin as a graphic designer and was soon promoted to art director.”
Fritz has served as Martin’s advertising and design services manager since 2002. She establishes the conceptual and creative direction of print and digital projects and campaigns that are released to a worldwide market. She produced some award-winning pieces in the process.
Clearly, she was able to survive our industry for many years, despite the fact she had no music background. Was it a big challenge to adapt at first? “I was able to blend in because of my passion for art and graphic design,” Fritz said. “Being a creative person like I am, I can relate to musicians. I understand the desire they have to express themselves. Music is an art and I understand how passionate guitarists are about their instruments. Both musicians and artists use tools to express themselves.”
Some other aspects of the job when Fritz was hired were more challenging, however. “C. F. Martin is a rather large company,” she said. “So, there were a lot of things to learn, from people’s names to becoming familiar with all the models of guitars we had. What are all of the parts of a body of a guitar? What affects tone? What types of woods are used to make a guitar? I learned that process along the way. It was challenging, but also very interesting. I had the emotional side of the job down pat. The technical side was another story.”
When you work for a company for 19 years, it often means one of two things: You are either desperate for a paycheck, or you truly love your job. For Fritz, it’s definitely the latter. She truly enjoys working for Martin. I could sense a smile on her face, even when speaking to her on the phone, when she was about to explain why she enjoys working for the Nazareth, Pa., company. “It’s an amazing history,” she said. “I love the company’s history and how it’s retained family for more than 175 years.” She added, “Then, there are the products. The guitars are works of art. The quality and the passion people have here who work on the instruments is impressive. Not only are we a family company, but several members of many families also work here. We are proud to work here. Proud of the products we produce. Proud of the history and heritage here. That’s what keeps me working here. We have a very low turnover rate. People retire with 30 to 40 years of service. That’s unusual today.”
In addition to her work for the marketing department, Fritz is an integral part of the Martin Owner’s Club. She manages most business aspects and provides leadership to the committee. The Club provides exclusive benefits. “Membership is comprised of owners and players, collectors and enthusiasts from around the world,” said Fritz. Many attend an annual party at the company headquarters. The latest event took place on Aug. 6. More than 1,600 guests gathered for a day of entertainment, demonstrations and clinics, food and an address by Chris Martin. “It was a very successful event,” said Fritz.
C.F. Martin has plenty of female employees in its production department. However, in the marketing department, female employees are scarcer. “We’re in a male-dominated industry,” Fritz said. “About 80 percent of the musicians who play our guitars are male, but, personally, I don’t think much about it,” she added. “There could be some men who’d rather talk to a male. I don’t know how a female is viewed by the industry. That doesn’t bother me, though. Even if that is true, I wouldn’t have an issue with that.”
In the marketing and graphic design industries, females are employed at a higher rate than in the music industry. “Regarding marketing or graphic design clubs or social activities, there’s a larger mix of females,” said Fritz. “But few of my media contacts in the music industry are female.”
Fritz has 23- and 25-year-old sons. She has a wide variety of interests. She enjoys exercise and dance, skiing and recently obtained her motorcycle license. Fritz loves animals. “I have some unusual pets,” said Fritz. “I have two cockatoos. I have a Chinese water dragon, a pit bull and a cat.”
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