As we reported earlier this week, the Gibson offices in Nashville and Memphis were raided by federal agents, for the second time within two years.
The Custom and Border Protection agency, and the Fish and Wildlife Service raided the buildings, and declined to comment about the ongoing investigation.
In contrast, Gibson did not decline to comment. Their CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, blasted the authorities for the effect it was taking on the company and potentially its reputation:
“We believe the arrogance of federal power is impacting me personally, our company personally and the employees here in Tennessee, and it’s just plain wrong.”
Later he added that he was 'gratified' with the public's support on the issue, and found it encouraging.
Juszkiewicz has always publicly supported the plight of the rainforest, and has put forward the opinion that within our lifetimes, there will be no quality wood guitars.
But the ordeal begs the question; can you have smoke without fire? Gibson are still involved in a legal battle with the US government, and the CEO estimates the value of the seized goods at $1 million. Despite this, the company claims not to have been told what they have done wrong.
All of us in the guitar community hope that Gibson are clean, and that this is just a misjudgement by the federal agencies. But what would the authorities have to gain from pouring resources into such an investigation, if they did not smell a rat at Gibson? (Apart from $1 million worth of guitars of course)!
Gibson are playing a trump card in this battle, they are quite obviously making a beeline for the support of the 'every man', claiming that the whole ordeal is a matter of putting class differences behind us:
“[…] it seems to me there’s almost a class warfare of companies versus people, rich versus poor, Republicans versus Democrats … and there’s just a lack of somebody that stands up and says, ‘I’m about everyone. I’m really about America and doing what’s good for the country and not fighting these little battles."
Artful newsbite propaganda from Henry Juszkiewicz, but if he truly is the subject of a personalised attack from the authorities, then he will need the support of the people. With PR skills like that, maybe he should join the authorities and run the presidential race.
We all hope he's right, and there is a certain loveable quality to his highly vocal cavalier response to the federal agents who raided his business. As of writing, Gibson are still making guitars, under the direct orders of the boss, and the agencies still haven't hinted as to what Gibson have done wrong.
This seems like a story that will very slowly unfold, and may just fizzle out and amount to nothing. Whatever happens, Gibson will always be an iconic brand. If the company has broken the law, and has been using ilegal woods to make Gibson guitars, then the guitar community will expect the authorities to deal with the situation to the letter of the law. As such an offense is serious, and ilegal deforestation is a major contributing factor as to why wood for guitars is running seriously low.
Hopefully, that isn't the case.
More From: GIBSON