Henry Juszkiewicz Commencement Speaker 12-12-09

Nov 20, 2009

Henry Juszkiewicz '76 to speak at commencement and receive an Honorary Doctor of Management.


 Honorary Doctor of Management
Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009

 Henry Juszkiewicz ‘76
Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar
Nashville, Tenn.

Henry Juszkiewicz, a member of the Kettering/GMI Class of 1976, got his start in the auto industry and ended up helping save a piece of American rock ‘n roll. 

Mr. Juszkiewicz grew up in Rochester, NY., enjoying a healthy passion for music and academic performance.  He enrolled at Kettering/GMI and spent five years as a co-op student at GM's Delco Division in Rochester, where he worked a variety of jobs at Delco's 6,000-employee electronic components plant.

As a college student, he put his musical skills to work playing a Gibson guitar in rock bands at parties and weddings. After graduating with honors from Kettering/GMI, he worked at Delco Products for two years as a product manager.  He studied for an MBA in night school at the University of Rochester and later completed his MBA at Harvard University on a General Motors Fellowship.

Mr. Juszkiewicz then joined the New York firm of Neiderhoffer, Cross and Zeckhauser, Inc., a pioneer in the area of middle-market deals, where he rose to the position of executive vice president of mergers and acquisitions. He left the firm in 1981 and, with two former Harvard classmates (David Berryman and Gary Zebrowski), acquired Phi Technologies of Oklahoma City. Within one month he turned the struggling technology firm into a highly profitable company.

In 1986, Mr. Juszkiewicz and his partners acquired the faltering Gibson Guitar Corporation from the Norlin Corporation.  His aggressive management style again created an immediate turnaround and Gibson became profitable within a month. With creative and innovative marketing tactics, he concentrated on the consumer rather than the retailer - a reflection of his personal experience as a guitar player. Refocusing the company on achieving the highest possible standards of quality and customer service, he drove Gibson from the brink of closing to a company that has regained worldwide respect with annual average growth of 20 percent over the last decade.

Mr. Juszkiewicz began fulfilling his vision of Gibson as a full-line, global musical instrument company by acquiring other instrument companies, establishing a Gibson-owned European distribution center with joint-venture distributors, and acquiring manufacturing facilities in China. He dedicated a standalone division to R&D, resulting in the introduction of  the HD.6X Pro digital guitar, the Gibson Robot Les Paul Guitar, The Gibson Dark Fire guitar, all which represent the most significant advances in guitar technology since the invention of the electric guitar more than 70 years ago. He continues to expand the company worldwide with new consumer electronics accessories, the acquisition of Deutsche Wurlitzer in Germany and several other facilities in China.

Gibson is known worldwide for producing classic models in every major style of fretted instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, and banjos. Founded in 1894 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and headquartered in Nashville since 1984, Gibson Guitar’s brands now include Epiphone, Dobro, Maestro, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Echoplex, Electar, Flatiron, Slingerland, Valley Arts, Maestro, Oberheim, Sunshine Piano, Take Anywhere Technology, Baldwin, J&C Fischer, Chickering, Hamilton and Wurlitzer. 

Mr. Juszkiewicz’s civic and volunteer activities are extensive.  He is a board member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Rainforest Alliance and the We Are Family Foundation. He is a co-founder of Music Rising, a campaign to help aid musicians, schools and churches of the Gulf Coast.  He is active in the Clinton Global Initiative and numerous environmental causes, and he is a member of the Society of International Business Fellows. He also continues his commitment to a better world through Nordoff-Robbins, which provides music therapy for severely handicapped children, the T.J. Martell Fund for Leukemia Research, The Environmental Defense Fund, Teenage Cancer Trust and the Gibson Foundation.

At Kettering, he represents the University in the National Co-op Hall of Fame, and he is a past recipient of the Entrepreneurship Award from the Alumni Association.  He helped Kettering add the Applied Physics Acoustics Laboratory about 10 years ago, following a generous donation.  The gift allowed the purchase of two FFT analyzers, microphones, sound level meters, loudspeakers, and several computer workstations with sound and vibration analysis software. In addition, Gibson donated the modal analysis software and hardware which was formerly used at their G-WIZ research facility in California. Kettering students are now able to become familiar with performing experimental modal analysis, a tool which is widely used in several industries. Gibson also has donated three guitars to the University (Epiphone Coronet electric, Gibson ES-335 hollow body electric, Gibson 1960s hummingbird acoustic) and two drums (snare and tom) for student research projects, for classroom and laboratory demonstrations, and experiments in the vibration of and sound radiation from musical instruments.

Mr. Juszkiewicz resides with his wife and children in Nashville, Tenn.