For immediate Release: August 2009

Marine City plucks new company
Guitar-parts maker to employ about 25 people
Times Herald• August 20, 2009

(Excerpts from the article as published August 20, 2009):

Rockford Carving Company started manufacturing guitar parts in Marine City this week, taking over a plant formerly used by the automotive industry.

The company, which makes parts for guitars, moved into the 52,000-square-foot building at 837 Degurse Ave. in late June, relocating from Rockford, Ill.

Doug Alexander, executive director of the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, which helped bring the company to the area, said the diversity the company brings is a good thing.

"I think it is certainly a benefit that we have something that is coming into the area that is non-automotive," he said.

Robert Klingler, the company's president, said he and his wife started the company 20 years ago and moved to Marine City for more space to expand.

He said plans call for buying another building in Marine City next year. He would not be more specific.

"All the moons lined up, and we decided we'd start the second 20 years with new shoes," Klingler said of the move.

The company will employ about 20 people. Only about five people have been hired, Klingler said.

Klingler said the work force in the area is adequate to fill the positions. The company will receive a tax abatement from the city.

Rockford Carving makes 4,000 different parts for guitars, including finger boards for frets, rosewood bridges, pearl inlays, head veneers and switch covers.

The company makes parts for leading guitar makers, including Les Paul [Gibson], Fender and Paul Reed Smith. The parts are for electric and acoustic guitars.

Sales for the company are projected to be 489,000 units per month this year. Klingler said employees who work at the factory must be particular about the products because they end up on valuable instruments.

"The purchaser, when they buy a guitar, is buying a string instrument that is beautiful," he said, "and they want it just right."

Klingler said the company moved about 16 tractor-trailer loads of equipment from its Illinois plant to Marine City, including 40 machines that cut the products using computer programming.

As the business expands, he anticipates being able to hire about five more employees in about a year.

"We want to continue to grow," he said.

The move for Klingler also is a sort of homecoming.

He said he grew up in Birmingham but spent many weekends in Marine City, particularly on the St. Clair River learning to boat and fish. "My wife and I decided we are going to move to Marine City and put it all where we want to ultimately live," he said. "We're having a ball."

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