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2019 was another record year for Fort Wayne’s Sweetwater

Sweetwater enjoyed another record year in 2019. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

Sweetwater experienced another record-setting year in 2019.

The Fort Wayne-based retailer of music instruments and pro audio gear reported sales of $805 million, up 11 percent from $725 million in 2018, which was also a record-breaking year. Sweetwater’s annual total sales increases have ranged from 11 percent to 28 percent every year since 2010.

The company sold more than 147,000 guitars in 2019, up from 128,000 in 2018 and 107,000 in 2017. There was significant growth across all product categories, with the biggest increases being in pro audio, synthesizers, drums, guitars, and microphones.

Employment growth continued with the addition of a record 113 new sales engineers in 2019, as well as 27 employees in the marketing department and 19 in the IT department.

“Sweetwater has become an employer of choice not just in northeast Indiana but across the country,” Senior Vice President of Human Resources Jeff McDonald said in a statement. “We are proud of the culture we’ve created that fosters innovation and inclusivity, allowing us to attract the best and brightest to Fort Wayne and Sweetwater.”

More students took lessons at the Sweetwater Academy last year than the previous year, clocking over 30,000 lessons with the Academy’s 38 instructors. In 2018 there were 850 active students. That number jumped to 923 in 2019. GearFest, the industry’s largest free trade show open to the general public, continued to grow in 2019, with 17,000 attendees from nearly all 50 states and several countries including Denmark, Japan, and India. The June event featured nearly 500 vendors and award-winning artists, producers and other special guests who hosted more than 80 seminars and breakout sessions. More than 28 hours of workshops were streamed live online, with 250,000 watching.

Sweetwater’s partnership with Purdue University continued to grow dramatically since the school’s Music Technology Program opened on the Sweetwater campus in August 2018. In 2019, 102 students took classes in the 8,000-square-foot facility that is home to a world-class recording studio, editing suites, equipment library, and more. That’s more than double the 45 students in 2018.

Construction continued on the nearly 480,000 square foot warehouse being built on the company’s 163-acre campus located on U.S. Highway 30 in Fort Wayne. It will become operational in February. Crews will break ground on the addition of a 65,000 square foot event center this summer.

Sweetwater Founder & CEO Chuck Surack stated, “We are proud of our continued growth and are excited to see what 2020 brings. Our success over the past four decades is the result of our passion for serving customers and an unwavering commitment to always do the right thing.”

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