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% of the U.S. GDP), employ 63% of the workforce and are responsible for 78% of all new job creation.
The Gretsch Company has outlasted the majority of family-owned businesses, which typically see a lifespan of 24 years, according to familybusinesscenter.com. About 40% of U.S. family-owned businesses turn into second-generation businesses, while approximately 13% are passed down successfully to a third generation, and only 3% 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.
“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 and 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 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.