Henry Juszkiewicz – CEO of Gibson Guitar

The Texas Union frequently brings CEO’s and other speakers to UT, and this Thursday night was a speech given by Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson Guitar who took the company from small and unprofitable to the most recognizable brand of guitar in the world.

He claims his passion for music coupled with his love for electronics since he was a kid helped him excel at running Gibson. He strongly emphasized that true success is best accomplished with passionate leadership.

In his third year at Harvard Business School he became curious about buying/selling companies. His professors told him, “Just find a good lawyer.” Not satisfied with this answer, he went into investment banking for a few years to learn about buying and selling companies. He later tried buying several at-risk companies and restoring them. Like most successful people, he failed at some and succeeded at some.

A while later he was informed that Gibson Guitar Corp was for sale, but no one would buy it because it was a financial disaster. He moved to the Kansas to live near the company headquarters and observed the operation for a full 6 months while drawing up a concrete business plan. Once he purchased it, the company became profitable within 30 days because of his hard work and research. Since 1987 he has grown the business 20% every year.

Some of the main pieces of advice he gave were:

  • Have the tenacity and boldness to do things others won’t.
  • What’s possible is only what you think is possible. He said he wanted to grow the company to impossible levels. He has now far exceeded everyone’s expectations.
  • Only allow people in your company who believe in your vision. If they don’t believe in the company, they must go.
  • Constantly grow and innovate.
  • Give back to the community that helped build you.

Of course I had to get a picture with him. I actually brought my own guitar I’ve had for over 10 years to the speech to take a picture with:

The pictures came out….interesting. He covered the head of my guitar in both pictures because it wasn’t a Gibson!

Blog posted on: October 28, 2005

21 comments on “Henry Juszkiewicz – CEO of Gibson Guitar

  1. Maxim

    LOL, you had the balls to bring a Tex-Mex Strat to Henry J? You didn’t ask him to sign it, did you?

    Great post, as usual.

  2. Anonymous

    Is…and correct me if I’m wrong….is that STRING on your guitar strap!?

    Bringing an old guitar with string on the strap to jam with the CEO of Gibson….now that’s true frugality!

  3. Anonymous

    Great post, Nev. Funny pic. It’s interesting the extent to which the CEO went to cover the name of a competitor. Shows how important branding is.

  4. Flexo

    The CEO obvisouly doesn’t want a photo luring around with a competitor’s brand name visible, but any guitar person can regognize a Strat…

  5. Dan

    I’m surprised anyone has the cajones to show up with another brand of guitar. Surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a Gibson to borrow for an evening.

  6. Chris

    It’s just plain disrespectful. You think he enjoyed taking the picture if he was trying to cover the guitar head?

  7. Jay's Financial Blog

    It would be like showing up to see Bill Gates speak and pulling out your iBook and wearing a I Love APPLE T-Shirt..and trying to get a picture with him.

  8. Maxim

    You guys are thinking too hard about this one. It’s like driving up to Bill Ford III in a Chevy truck, or meeting Metallica in your Voivod shirt, or putting Aunt Jemima syrup on your Country Fresh pancakes … who cares! I suspect those offended also never wear their Nike sneakers with Champion socks … lighten up. It’s ballsy what he did, but also kind of funny.

  9. fourstar

    Nev, you should compile a coffee table book of pictures with big corporate players … this being the theme — Fender Guitar w/ the Gibson CEO … Apple products with Michael Dell … drink a Bud Light with Pete Coors … wear a Reebok hat with Phil Knight, etc.

  10. Robert

    It would have been more funny if you had hidden the headstock of your Strat a lot further inside Juszkiewicz. (The Photoshop altered copy of the pic I made for myself proves this point. LOL!)

    There is no way you could disrespect this man any more than he has already disrespected his own industry, and the hardworking engineers he’s stolen from. Read this article and learn the Truth:


    Be careful of the businessmen you might meet on your way to being rich. The music industry would be better off without small-minded, greedy thieves like Juszkiewicz. Be good and make a lot of honest money.

  11. Dave

    Bringing a strat to the man….yeah! Funny thing is, and he probably wouldn’t admit it, but he probably owns one or two!

  12. Anonymous

    He dosen't want to be pictured with Fender but he'll copy one. Yeah this dude is a Idiot. Henry is everything that is wrong with Gibson and until they get rid of him They will continue to put overpriced crap.

  13. Phil

    Gibson has been rated one of the worst companies to work for in the US. I guess they don’t teach you to take care of employees at harvard. Most US makers build a better guitar than Gibson. Gibson has only its name to live on. The business model will fail. They’ll crank out too many guitars and over saturate the market and their shit will be worth nothing and nobody will pay for it. I own 8 USA Gibsons and I’m done with them. Will stick with PRS, Ernie Ball, Carvin, Fender, etc.


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