If you grew up wanting to learn how to play guitar, the drums, or any other type of musical instrument, then you don't need any kind of introduction to Guitar Center. With 13,000 employees and around 293 Guitar Center stores and another 225 Music & Arts stores, the $2.2 billion company is well-known around the country as a place for music enthusiasts get the gear they need.
Ron Japinga, the CEO of Guitar Center is Jane Wells' latest guest on CEOs You Should Know and tells us the history of the company that was originally founded in 1959 as "The Organ Center."
"Wayne Mitchell, he was selling organs, and all of a sudden, guitars started to happen with The Beatles," Japinga said. "So he started carrying a few Vox amplifiers and some guitars and then the rest is history."
Guitars, music and retail weren't on Japinga's mind for what he wanted to do as a career. In fact, he tells Jane Wells that he initially went to school to be a pilot and run an airport, but those dreams were diverted when the CEO of Macy's offered him a different line of work.
"I sent a resume to the CEO of Macys (Ed Finklestien), to fly his corporate jet, and he was dismantling the corporate jet program and said, 'How about an opportunity at retail?'" Japinga said.
"I went and interviewed and everybody said 'You can run your own business' which was important to me at that time. And I started the executive training program at Macy's and the rest is history," Japinga said.