SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (July 6, 2010) – Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Larry Thomas to Chief Executive Officer following the previously announced retirement of long-time Chairman and CEO Bill Mendello. The announcement is part of a corporate succession plan that has been in place for nearly a year and officially positions Thomas in his new role, effective Aug. 1, 2010. Thomas was appointed to the FMIC Board of Directors in 2009 and brings nearly 40 years of music industry experience to FMIC, including his successful tenure (1996-2004) as Chairman and CEO of Guitar Center, Inc.
The organizational move also names current FMIC Board members, Mark Fukunaga and Michael Lazarus as Co-Chairmen, effective Aug. 1, 2010. Mark Fukunaga has served as a member of the FMIC Board of Directors since July 1993 and is currently the Chairman and CEO of Servco Pacific Inc. Michael Lazarus has served as a member of the FMIC Board of Directors since December 2001. Lazarus co‑founded Weston Presidio, a private equity firm and FMIC’s largest shareholder, in 1991, where he currently serves as Managing Partner.
“Larry Thomas is a proven entrepreneur and seasoned professional manager with an impressive record of success throughout his entire career,” said Lazarus.
“We are very excited about our opportunity to work closely with Larry as he continues to build the FMIC culture and lead the FMIC team into the future,” said Fukunaga.
“I am delighted to be able to pass the leadership of FMIC into the very capable hands of Larry Thomas,” said Mendello. “Larry is a widely-respected person with an incredible amount of experience and valuable insight about music companies and music retailers, large and small. He is one of the true legends in the industry and brings the credentials that will help lead FMIC to even greater future success.”
“It is an incredible honor and responsibility to be chosen to lead Fender Musical Instruments Corporation,” said Thomas. “As one of the world’s best known and most respected companies, there continues to be great potential in the FMIC brands, and I look forward to contributing to future success while growing the company’s powerful musical legacy.”
Thomas began his career in 1971 with instrument wholesaler/importer Buegeleisen and Jacobson, Inc. He joined Guitar Center in 1977 as a salesperson, subsequently rising through increasingly responsible roles including store manager, regional manager, general manager, president and ultimately chairman and CEO. At Guitar Center, he played an integral role in the company’s continued growth, acquisitions and subsequent public offerings, and eventual status as the largest, most popular music chain in North America.
Thomas is a passionate music fan and advocate, an active lifelong musician, and participates on several music-related boards, including the Fender Music Foundation, USC Thornton School of Music, the American Music Conference and the California Music Project.
ABOUT FENDER MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS CORPORATION
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) is the world’s leading guitar manufacturer, and its name has become synonymous with all things rock ‘n’ roll. Iconic Fender® instruments such as the Telecaster®, Stratocaster®, Precision Bass® and Jazz Bass® guitars are known worldwide as the instruments that started the rock revolution, and they continue to be highly prized by today’s musicians and collectors. FMIC brands include Fender®, Squier®, Guild®, Tacoma®, Gretsch®, Jackson®, Charvel®, EVH® and SWR® among others.
In 2007, FMIC acquired KMC Music, the largest independent U.S. distributor of musical instruments and accessories. KMC Music produces and/or distributes Ovation®, Takamine® and Hamer® guitars; Latin Percussion®, Gretsch® Drums, Gibraltar® Hardware, Toca® Percussion, Sabian® cymbals and Genz Benz® amplifiers; in addition to a full catalog of more than 36,000 wholesale music products.