Following $619 Million Sales Year, Sweetwater Teams With Purdue U.
...a learning center that will include studios, classrooms, and other teaching spaces. The facility is expected to open in August 2018, prior to the university’s fall semester and first day of classes.
Chuck and Lisa Surack and Sweetwater will contribute to this project in two ways: They will provide $1.6 million for the build-out of the facility. The university will reimburse the $1.6 million over a six-year period. In addition, Purdue is receiving a gift-in-kind in the amount of $1.465 million, based on the Suracks’ not charging any interest or rent for the building. Additionally, the students and faculty will enjoy the many benefits of the Sweetwater campus from its recording studios to the amenities that its employees take advantage of, including the Downbeat Diner, Crescendo Cafe, Health Club and more.
In addition to funding from Sweetwater, the State of Indiana and the English Bonner Mitchell Foundation have each provided $1 million to the Purdue music program. A significant portion of these funds, not yet determined, will be used for gear and infrastructure for the Sweetwater campus project.
“Sweetwater’s relationship with the music department at the IU and Purdue campus has been strong for decades,” said Sweetwater founder and President Chuck Surack. “This music technology facility takes that relationship to an entirely new level. It will not only provide a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art learning facility, but will allow for more collaboration and integration between students and the professional work of Sweetwater’s talented and dedicated music professionals, as well as access through internships to our three professional recording studios and Performance Theatre. We also look forward to having Purdue students here to explore and enjoy the many unique features of our campus.”
“Our music program is already home to world-class faculty and staff,” said John O’Connell, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “Growing it from a music department to a school of music will attract more students nationally and internationally. Creating a state-of-the-art facility on the Sweetwater campus sets our program above and beyond that of any program of this kind in the nation.”
In other news from Sweetwater, the company recently reported another record year in sales growth. Total sales in 2017 were $619 million, up 22% from $507 million in 2016, which was also a record-breaking year. December 2017 sales were $71 million, up 22% from December 2016. Black Friday and Cyber Monday both shattered all previous records. Sweetwater’s annual total sales increases have ranged from 17.5% to 28% every year since 2010.
In good news for the guitar industry, Sweetwater sold more than 106,000 guitars in 2017, up from 87,000 in 2016. There was significant growth across all product categories, with the biggest percentage increases in guitars, drums, and keyboards.
Chuck Surack commented, “Our amazing team helped more than 360,000 brand-new, first-time customers purchase the gear to help them achieve their musical dreams. Everyone at Sweetwater is committed to always doing the right thing, whatever that might be, for each customer.” In all, Sweetwater employees, primarily the sales force, handled more than 4.3 million phone calls.
Sweetwater continues to hire “the best-qualified men and women in the business.” On January 1 of 2017, it had 1,100 employees. Exactly one year later the number had increased by 14% to 1,255 employees and is steadily growing.
On November 3, Sweetwater opened its fourth warehouse, 43,500 square feet in size, and received almost 500 tractor trailer loads in that same month.
Sweetwater added a full-time family doctor and RN in an on-site medical clinic, and they saw more than 1,600 employees and family members in more than 2,900 visits in 2017. This has become one of the company’s most popular employee benefits, and free visits are available to every employee and family member.
The company also expanded its campus by purchasing 55 adjacent acres of land, for a total of 166 acres. New roads for greater access and safety have been completed. Significant new building projects will begin in mid-2018 and be completed in 2019.
Surack concluded, “2017 was an exciting year of growth throughout our company. I am so grateful to our customers, vendor partners, and especially our amazing employees for their friendship and loyalty. I am looking forward to a wonderful 2018.”
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