Martin Guitar Continues Its Tradition of Investment in Lehigh Valley

By Colin McEvoy on June 24, 2019

A Martin Guitar employee adding strings to an instrument at the manufacturing facility in Upper Nazareth Township in 2015.

Martin Guitar has been part of Lehigh Valley’s business community for more than 180 years. Now they are continuing that tradition, further investing in the region with plans for what will be the biggest capital investment in the company’s history.

C. F. Martin & Company, more commonly known as Martin Guitar, has announced plans to build a new 200,000 square-foot facility in the Chrin Commerce Centre off Route 33, on land that includes portions of Palmer Township and Tatamy.

The project will let the company consolidate existing storage and distribution facilities into a new modern, climate-controlled operation in a building close to its main manufacturing facility in Upper Nazareth Township, reducing the amount of time needed for moving guitars and wood back and forth between its various sites.

“The reason Martin Guitar is continuing to invest in the Lehigh Valley are really the same reasons that drew its founders to the Lehigh Valley in the first place 180 years ago,” said Nathan Eckhart, Chief Financial Officer at Martin Guitar. “That includes the area’s proximity to major markets, the workforce of craftspeople that we value, and just the many wonderful resources the area offers.”

Martin Guitar makes about 150,000 instruments each year, products that can be seen and heard across all genres of music and in all segments of pop culture, from concert and theater stages to television and movies. Eric Clapton, Ed Sheeran, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Colbie Caillat are just a few examples of famous names who play Martin guitars.

“Martin Guitar embodies the best of what we’ve been working to illustrate through our recently-launched Made Possible in Lehigh Valley campaign,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

“Martin Guitar is a nationally-known company that makes world-class instruments used by some of the greatest musicians in the country, and they do it with the help of Lehigh Valley’s central location, proximity to markets, high-quality workforce, and other economic assets,” Cunningham said. “Martin Guitar made it happen. Lehigh Valley made it possible.”

Martin Guitar has long benefited from Lehigh Valley’s central location on the East Coast, proximity to markets, and availability of labor. Martin officials have praised Lehigh Valley’s workforce for their strong work ethic and willingness to learn detail-oriented skills.

The company is currently working through the design phase for its new facility, which will be located at the corner of Eighth Street and Commerce Lane, Eckhart said. The company hopes to have the building ready for operation by 2021.

The project will allow Martin Guitar to consolidate an existing storage facility in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and a distribution center in Forks Township, into the new location. The company employs about 30 people in those two sites, as well as about 500 people in its production facility and main offices in Upper Nazareth Township.

The new facility is located near the Route 33 interchange that opened four years ago, a $40 million initiative that left the Chrin Commerce Centre in a position to become a major area of growth for Lehigh Valley.

Since the interchange was established, the Chrin Commerce Centre has welcomed such tenants as Porsche, Mondelez Global, Fedex Ground, XPO Logistics, and Amazon. A Sheetz will also be opening there, and the clothing retailer Lulus announced it will establish a facility in the center, creating more than 450 jobs.

Martin Guitar CEO & Chairman Chris Martin, first announced the project during a Wood Summit at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center in Bushkill Township on June 11, a gathering of government and business officials.

The Wood Summit includes discussions about such topics as current state of responsible and sustainable sourcing of raw materials and best practices in importing wood used to make acoustic guitars. Martin Guitar has hosted the event bi-annually since 2007.

“All wood has a story,” Martin said. “But what we’re finding is that consumers want to know that story, the story behind each and every tree that we are involved with along the way. And as we tell those stories, I think it will help sell more guitars.”

Last year, Martin Guitar became the first company in the musical instruments industry to receive the prestigious B Corp certification, which recognizes companies that use business as a force for good, meeting the highest standards of positive impact on society and the environment, and focusing just as much on people and the planet as they do on profit.

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