Heritage Guitar Purchased by Local Investors

Heritage Guitar Inc. has new owners. And while the creators of the handcrafted small-batch guitars are expecting changes, they may not be the ones you’d assume.

“Everybody thinks you have someone with money come in and they are going to start pumping out guitars on CNC machines and have robots. Nope,” says Kyle Sobko, marketing director for Heritage. “The guitars are going to continue to be handcrafted by the same people with the same equipment. The original owners are going to stay on and we are going to save the stack,” he adds.

The guitars are going to continue to be handcrafted by the same people with the same equipment."

The original owners, Marvin Lamb, formerly plant superintendent for Gibson; James A. Deurloo, former Gibson plant manager and J.P. Moats, Gibson’s former chief of quality control who died late last year, founded Heritage Guitar in 1985 with Bill Paige and Mike Korpak, also former Gibson employees.

The stack is the 70-foot tall red-brick smokestack, emblazoned with the Gibson name, and a local landmark that looms over the factory at 225 Parsons Street, a historical site that was home for Gibson Guitars from 1917 until Gibson moved production to Nashville in 1984. Heritage has been building guitars in the same space, with the same tooling and methods, since 1985.

Smokestack at the Heritage Factory at 225 Parsons Street

“We just need to do what we’ve been doing for 31 years — and for almost 100 in this building — and that’s building great guitars,” Sobko says. “What we’ve got to do is tell more people about it.”

We just need to do what we’ve been doing for 31 years — and for almost 100 in this building — and that’s building great guitars."

Step one for the new owners is a weeks-long effort to clean the factory and reorganize, Sobko says, reiterating that Heritage will continue using its original tooling and old-school manufacturing processes. “If you show up in two weeks, you’ll recognize it as the same place, just a little bit cleaner. Everything will be 100% handcrafted.”

Workers at the Heritage Factory

Sobko says that the business was bought by two local guys who have a history of business and building renovations in the Kalamazoo area; he declined to offer further details about the purchase and the purchasers.

“You can tell that this is a labor of love for everyone in the business. The people have a passion for the business, for the guitars and the building. And part of what was great about the business is that it was built from the ground up by these people, who are great guitar craftsmen. The problem with that was that they didn’t tell the story. There just are not enough people who know about Heritage Guitar.”

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