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Taylor Guitars

September 22, 2017
For the second consecutive year, East County-based guitar manufacturer Taylor Guitars generously played host to WTC San Diego and the 15 companies part of the MetroConnect program for a day-long export compliance workshop.
 
We kicked off the day with a tour of the company’s manufacturing operations, showcasing the craftsmanship that goes into the creation of every Taylor guitar. Then, the MetroConnect cohort was treated to lunch and an information session about global growth, IP protection and even corruption in the international marketplace. Taylor Guitars CFO Barbara Wight provided first-hand insight about the company’s ever-present struggle with foreign guitar counterfeits and resellers. She described how the company effectively responds to IP infringement, and helped the MetroConnect cohort think through how they might be at risk, and how they might combat such infringement.
 
Taylor Guitars Director of Finance Bryan Bear then described the company's schema for prioritizing international markets and choosing an entrance strategy.
 
These workshops are among several support services provide to local SMEs as part the MetroConnect program. 
September 8, 2015

Four decades of innovative musical technology poured into millions of acoustic and electric guitars has made Taylor Guitars a leading contender in instrument manufacturing. The company has equipped world-renowned artists from Taylor Swift and Jason Mraz to Black Sabbath’s Toni Iommi with well-crafted, easy-to-play guitars. With more than 900 employees, the company produces hundreds of guitars per day in its state-of-the-art factory complexes in both El Cajon and in Tecate, Mexico. For the third consecutive year, Taylor Guitars will open its doors alongside 30 other regional manufacturers to celebrate National Manufacturing Day on October 2.

 This week we talked with Barbara Wight, CFO of Taylor Guitars, about why the company chose San Diego.

Tell us what your company does.

Established in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, Taylor Guitars has evolved into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium acoustic and electric guitars. Renowned for blending an innovative use of modern technology with a master craftsman's attention to detail, Taylor guitars are widely considered the best sounding and easiest to play in the world. The company was a pioneer of the use of computer technology, lasers and other high-tech tools and machinery. Today, Taylor Guitars is widely recognized throughout the musical instrument industry as the visionary acoustic guitar manufacturer. Outstanding playability, flawless craftsmanship, and stunning aesthetics are just a few of the reasons that many of today’s leading musicians make Taylor their guitar of choice.

What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?

Since the company’s inception, Taylor has remained located in San Diego as it gives us the ability to attract and retain quality employees who want to live here, resulting in increased tenure and a quality pool of employees. Along with this, we are able to operate as a binational manufacturer with factories in both El Cajon and Tecate giving us a high-level of quality control over our products.

San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Deering Banjos is known throughout the world as a leader in its product class, and for good reason. Founded in the same shop as Taylor Guitars by Greg and Janet Deering 40 years ago, the company has continued to thrive in San Diego. If you turn on the TV or look in any entertainment magazine, alongside the acoustic guitar, Deering banjos are the instruments du jour of some of today’s biggest acts. 

What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

As a company, we anticipate additional growth in size, capacity and market share. We will continue to grow our brand presence and the true ‘Taylor experience’ in additional regions in the world. We expect San Diego to continue to be a world-class location for both businesses and families.

October 8, 2014

On the first Friday of every October, manufacturers across the country open their doors to the public to celebrate National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day). Last Friday, San Diego had 28 companies – more than any other region in California – participate in the day’s activities. Companies representing San Diego and Northern Baja’s diverse industries from biotech to aerospace, UAV and beer, united to show San Diegans all that’s made right here in our backyard.

In case you missed the morning’s panel and tours, we’ve compiled a list of things we’ve learned about these San Diego makers.

  1. Science and beer can share a roof
    Beer is science. If there is any company that demonstrates this, it’s San Diego-based White Labs, which was one of the innovators that opened its doors to the public this MFGDay. Part laboratory, part brewery, they are participating in another innovation activity San Diego knows well: decoding the genome; except instead of looking at the human genome, they’re looking to unravel beer’s DNA.
  2. Northern Baja is the gold standard of manufacturing
    CareFusion is one company that’s using the mega-region to its advantage. As a medical device manufacturer, they have acquired companies all over the U.S. However, all of its U.S. manufacturing facilities pale in comparison to its facilities right across the border, in Tijuana and Mexicali, said Carlos Nunez, chief medical officer of CareFusion, at a kickoff panel hosted by EDC on the morning of MFG Day. Many other innovators throughout San Diego have pointed to access to Mexico as a reason to set up shop in the region.

    On Sunday, CareFusion announced they were being acquired by Becton, Dickinson & Co (BD), a New Jersey-based medical technology company. The acquisition is further evidence of San Diego’s ability to develop sought-after, innovative companies. BD is committed to maintaining an active presence in San Diego, which we can speculate may be due to the mega-region’s strong R&D and manufacturing capabilities.
     
  3. East County is where music is made
    Two of the world’s most renowned musical instrument companies call East County home. Taylor Guitars, which has won the affection of musical talents including San Diego’s homegrown Jason Mraz, is located in El Cajon. This year marks the company’s 40th Anniversary. On MFG Day, tour goers were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the company that employs more than 400 people in the region.

    The largest banjo manufacturer in the U.S. is headquartered in Spring Valley. Deering – The Great American Banjo Company, was another company San Diegans were invited to tour on MFG Day.
  4. San Diego flies above the rest in UAVs
    In May, San Diego was one of the first 12 communities in the U.S. selected to participate in the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, which allows the region to compete for a pool of $1.3 billion to support the local manufacturing industry. The region was selected specifically for its expertise in aerospace manufacturing.

    On Friday, two very different aerospace manufacturers – Northrop Grumman and 3D Robotics - invited people to their respective locations to check out their innovations first had. Both of these companies have made a name for themselves for their work in the unmanned aerial vehicles field.
    In Rancho Bernardo, Northrop Grumman treated tour goers to a peak at its Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence, where spectators got to meet a very impressive 21-year-old engineer.

    In Otay Mesa, 3D Robotics showed off its indoor testing facility. The UAVs are assembled right across the border in Tijuana. At Friday’s panel, Guillermo Romero, a director with the company, spoke about the collaboration between his facilities on both sides of the border. His team can design a world-class UAV in San Diego, and manufacturer in Mexicali the same day.
     
  5. Manufacturers are hiring…and they pay well
    Manufacturing provides strong middle-class jobs to many San Diegans. With more than 2,900 companies in the manufacturing ranks, the industry represents about 8.7 percent of all jobs in San Diego, yet it accounts for 12.2 percent of all wages.

    One company that is looking to ramp up hiring is General Dynamics NASSCO. The shipyard is looking to bring on 1,000 new employees for jobs including welding and shipfitting. As Kevin Graney, vice president and general manager of the shipbuilder said at Friday’s panel, “If you can weld, come see me after.” The Barrio Logan company is committed to helping fill those jobs through apprenticeships and skills training.

    Community colleges, apprenticeships and other job training programs are vital assets as San Diego companies look to fill these vacant positions. As panelist Dave Klimkiewicz of the iconic Sector 9 skateboards said, “Not everyone needs to go to college, but everyone needs to live.” He talked about the need to bring back hands-on classes at the middle and high school level. Panelist Bob Cassidy of ViaSat also discussed the need to fill the workforce pipeline with more highly-skilled manufacturing technicians. 

October 4, 2013

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Every San Diego company has a unique story to tell. That became very apparent as the region came together to celebrate MFG Day at San Diego City College on Friday. Four panelists representing a diversity of San Diego companies talked about the challenges and opportunities facing the region’s manufacturing sector, which employs more than 90,000 individuals.

Take D&K Engineering, a high-tech manufacturer.  When the entrepreneurs who created EcoATM were looking to make their idea a reality, they went to the Rancho Bernardo firm to create an e-recycling kiosk. As a result, D&K Engineering had to scale up its production and hire more employees. And they chose to do it in San Diego. “Access to talent and the border opportunities are one of the main reasons I chose to start D&K in San Diego. Besides, who wouldn’t want to live here?” said Alex Kunczynski, one of the company’s founders.

The border also adds a significant competitive advantage for local manufacturers. As Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said in his opening remarks, “this is a big deal.” San Diego and Tijuana are currently working together like never before. When asked about why Taylor Guitars chose to open up a manufacturing facility across the border in Tecate, VP of Manufacturing Chris Wellons said “We have a saying at Taylor Guitars. We say ‘We’ll we be happy we did this in 10 years.’” And happy they are. Manufacturing in Mexico, as opposed to China or somewhere else overseas, has given Taylor more control over its finished product. It’s also become more cost competitive.

Wellons alluded to the entrepreneurial spirit of another panelist. Stephan Aarstol started Tower Paddle Boards - a sports and active lifestyle company - in 2010. With a little help from ABC’s “Shark Tank,”he transformed his sales from $3,000 in 2010 to $3 million in 2013.  Although he only has four employees in San Diego, he plans on growing in the coming years, and he’s looking to do it in the region. To him, he’s not just selling a paddleboard but also exporting California culture to consumers all over the globe.

As Chris Wellons of Taylor Guitars echoed, keeping manufacturing jobs close to home really comes down to innovating the process. Taylor Guitars has more than 700 employees, with many of them working out of its El Cajon headquarters. Although customers can still rely on the same quality that made Taylor a household name when it was founded in 1974, the manufacturing process has evolved. Taylor used to carve each of its guitar necks out of an individual piece of mahogany, meaning 60 – 70 percent of the materials were wasted. In 1999, Taylor decided that process needed to change. The result was one of the greatest guitar innovations in the past 100 years.  Instead of using a one-piece neck, Taylor switched to a three-piece neck, which resulted in a 66 percent yield in materials and created a more sustainable product. This, Wellons said, was possible because of the ability to execute a vision, which he thinks is a strength of San Diego.

So what can San Diego do to continue incubating manufacturing?

The answer may be easier said than done. San Diego is fortunate enough to have a highly-educated workforce. The metro currently ranks fourth in the U.S. for Ph.D. attainment rates.  Although Ph.D.-trained workers are essential for many San Diego sectors, as the panelists noted, it’s not necessarily these types of jobs they have trouble filling, but the machinist jobs where workers require hands-on manufacturing skills.

Wellons learned these skills in his high school shop class, and so did many other highly-skilled manufacturers. Admittedly, we focus a lot of time on retaining and incubating high-tech talent, but as Interim Mayor Gloria pointed out “These jobs are important too. They provide a comfortable middle-class life.” San Diego City College provided the perfect backdrop to get this conversation going. As San Diego Community College District Trustee Peter Zschiesche noted, 98 percent of San Diego City College grads remain in San Diego. 

With the guidance of San Diego Community College District and organizations like San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego – and it’s nearly 2,800 manufacturers – are looking to put these grads to work.

Of course, this all starts with the conversation we had this morning. A conversation that I’d bet we’ll be happy we had in 10 years.

Please check out MFGday.com for a list of local companies that held tours today,

Media Coverage: 

KPBS, Taylor Guitars still strumming along as example of San Diego manufacturing success

U-T, S.D. county product makers open doors to public

 

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September 17, 2013

With more than 2,800 manufacturers spread out across San Diego County, the region is home to a diverse and growing manufacturing base which supports more than 91,000 jobs.  Yet there is a growing perception that manufacturing is on its way out, as jobs supposedly head overseas to remain cost competitive.  Every day, companies are finding ways to innovate and refine the manufacturing process and retain and bring back manufacturing jobs and it’s happening right here in our backyard.

On Oct. 4, many of these San Diego companies will open their doors to the public as part MFG Day, a national program that addresses common misperceptions about the manufacturing industry.  Participants include:

·         D&K Engineering – As the exclusive manufacturer of innovative e-recycler EcoATM, this Rancho Bernardo company also works in the medical device and 3d printing space. Register

·         Quality Control Manufacturing Inc. –  What started as a one man operation in a garage in 1978, has grown into a 95 person team for this Santee precision parts manufacturer Register

·         Taylor Guitars – Located in El Cajon, the Taylor Guitars’ factory tour takes guests through the steps of guitar construction. From wood selection to final assembly, guests will experience each process as a guitar evolves from raw wood into a finished instrument. Register

The tours will be preceded by a breakfast panel and discussion with representative from the touring companies at San Diego City College.

So why should San Diego County care about manufacturing? Here are a few reasons:

·         According to the Manufacturing Institute, every job created in the manufacturing sector supports 2.5 additional jobs

·         Manufacturing crosses all sectors – Military, tourism, and innovation- of San Diego’s traded economies; For example, the San Diego Military Advisory Council reports that the manufacturing industry is the largest business sector that provides goods and services to the military throughout San Diego County

·         The industry is more relevant than ever: According to the U.S. Census Bureau Quarterly Workforce Indicators, California's manufacturers created 51,571 new jobs in the third quarter of 2011

·         The Mega-region creates an economically competitive landscape for manufacturers—Just ask companies including 3Drobotics, Taylor Guitars, and Aqua lung

·         Small businesses are the lifeline of San Diego’s manufacturing ecosystem;  80 percent of manufacturers in San Diego and Imperial Counties have less than 10 employees

We hope to see you at Manufacturing Day, but if we don’t catch you there, you can still follow the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #MadeinSD.


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