In what may initially seem like an unlikely pairing, American guitar maker Gibson has outlined a strategic partnership that , if approved, will have it making serious investments in consumer electronics giant Onkyo. According to a recent statement, Gibson intends to purchase majority stake in Onkyo USA and become the second largest shareholder of Onkyo Japan.
Gibson says the relationship will be mutually beneficial as it lends its marketing resources and expertise to Onkyo while Onkyo, in turn, will provide massive technology resources for Gibson’s newly formed Pro Audio division.
Gibson’s first indication that it was moving in a new direction came rather suddenly just a month ago when it announced it had acquired pro audio companies KRK and Stanton as well Cerwin-Vega! With the addition of Onkyo to the mix, Gibson’s Pro Audio division is looking pretty formidable.
Gibson cites broadening its audience as the main motivation for forming Gibson Pro Audio. As Gibson Guitar’s chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz put it in a recent statement, “Right now we have an extremely powerful brand that people recognize and value, but the musical instrument category is inherently limited because people who purchase instruments also need to know how to play them. This new division is perfectly aligned with our core. It expands our reach to fellow music lovers and allows us access to 20 in 20 consumers, instead of the one in 20 we currently hit.”
The forming of this new division takes some of the spotlight away from Gibson’s recent federal entanglements. In late August of 2011 armed Federal Marshalls raided the Gibson Guitar Corporation in Tennessee once again, confiscating ebony wood apparently sourced from Madagascar. The scuffle is over the 100 year-old Lacey Act which was recently amended in 2008 to include the protection of endangered plants as well as animals. As such, the use of Ebony or Rosewood obtained from illegal tree harvest is expressly banned. There’s been little word from the Justice Department since the raid, but Juszkiewicz has been very vocal in his response.