The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, July 01, 2020 1:00 am

Sales rising at Sweetwater

Success during pandemic featured on Forbes website

Samantha Nower | For The Journal Gazette

Sweetwater Sound CEO Chuck Surack enlisted his wife, daughter, sons, and himself to help pack boxes to ship items to customers this spring.

He needed the extra hands to fill the surge of orders the online retailer of audio and musical equipment experienced not long after the novel coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic.

“There's no job in this building that I haven't done or am still not willing to do because I believe that nobody is any more important or any less important than anyone else,” Surack said in an interview Tuesday.

The longtime local business executive was featured in a Forbes online article in May. The article detailed Sweetwater's increased sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, attributing the growth to people's desire to learn new instruments or start a podcast while self-isolating. It also highlighted Surack's commitment to his business and his thoughts on running a successful company.

Surack said Sweetwater's high sales volume hasn't dropped. The company made $800 million in total sales in 2019, according to a January 2020 news release. Surack said Sweetwater is experiencing double the sales in recent months compared with numbers from the first half of 2019. The company sought to fill four dozen shipping jobs in April to keep up with new orders.

Surack said the article came as a surprise, but he was proud that his 1,800 employees are getting the recognition they deserve.

“We have customers all around the country, all around the world, and to get nationally recognized for it is a sign of credibility for our people,” he said.

Forbes' website had 122 million U.S. visits in May and had 209 million global monthly visitors.

Sweetwater Sound is one of the largest online retailers for audio and musical equipment in the U.S. Surack founded the company from a VW bus in 1979, expanding the company over 41 years. In 2019, the company sold 147,000 guitars, and has had sales increases of 11% to 28% every year since 2010, the January release said.

Surack said Sweetwater provides a personal touch that larger companies may not be able to provide. Sweetwater employs about 500 sales engineers who customers can call with any questions they may have regarding music equipment, Surack said.

Sweetwater is successful, Surack said, because the company focuses on people and fulfilling dreams.

“We just happen to be selling music instruments,” he said, “and we do it in a really high-quality way and treat people the way that we would want to be treated ourselves.”

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