- Guitar and music retailer Gibson Brands named Cesar Gueikian as president and interim CEO on Tuesday. Gueikian joined the company as Gibson’s chief merchant in 2018, and in 2021 was appointed brand president.
- Gueikian replaces President and CEO James Curleigh who led the company since 2018. Curleigh is leaving the company and will step down as a director.
- In its announcement, the company credited Gueikian with helping to orchestrate Gibson’s resurgence by building brand momentum, product innovation and direct-to-consumer offerings.
In 2018, privately held Gibson said it controlled 40% of the market for $2,000-plus guitars. But the company hit a low note that year when the iconic brand, played by artists of all genres from B.B. King to Slash of Guns ‘n Roses to Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Gueikian, Curleigh and Mark Agnesi, Gibson's director of brand experience, were part of a new leadership team brought on following the departure of former CEO Henry Juszkiewicz. According to Guitar World, Juszkiewicz made changes to Gibson’s products that alienated some consumers. Although Juszkiewicz’s tenure was controversial, he’s also credited with saving the company from collapse 30 years earlier.
Gibson primarily sells its products online, DTC, and through other retailers like Guitar Center and online music retailers like Sweetwater. The company’s brand portfolio also includes sibling guitar brands Epiphone and Kramer and amplifier maker Mesa/Boogie.
“I am honored to take on this important role with a company that means so much to me,” said Gueikian. “Gibson has shaped sound for the last 130 years, and we now have the opportunity to drive the future of music and touch people’s lives for the next 130 years.”
Gueikian has a music and business background. Before joining the company, he co-founded Melody Capital Partners, an alternative asset manager focused on private corporate financing, restructuring and investing. Gueikian held leadership roles at UBS and Deutsche Bank. He’s also a musician who has performed and recorded with artists that include Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo of Metallica; Rex Brown of Pantera; and Dave Mustaine of Megadeth.
Continued innovation in instruments, sound and media with the goal of inspiring fans and artists to create music are central to Gueikian’s long-term strategy for the company.
“We are transitioning to new leadership at a time of strength to ensure the company continues its momentum and is well-positioned to execute on its next phase of growth,” Nat Zilkha, chairman of Gibson’s Board of Directors, said in a statement. “Cesar has played a huge role in the company’s recent success, including securing critical artist partnerships and overseeing the evolution of many of our most iconic product lines, and the Board has full confidence in his leadership.”
Music retailers also faced a challenge — and an opportunity — when the pandemic hit. Forced to stay home, sales of music-related products exploded as hobbyists and professionals alike were forced off stage by lockdown and social distancing orders.
Gibson has one brick-and-mortar retail store, dubbed the Gibson Garage. It opened in 2021 and will mark its two-year anniversary June 9, the company told Retail Dive. The Gibson Garage offers visitors the opportunity to play and purchase electric and acoustic guitars, amplifiers, guitar pedals and related accessories. The space also features live performances and memorabilia.
Also in 2021, Gibson launched an app that offers shopping and experiential features that include guitar lessons.