BOZEMAN — The Gibson acoustic guitar factory in Bozeman supplies guitars to artists like Slash, Jimmy Page, Luke Combs, and Sheryl Crow. The factory's recent expansion will provide around 100-200 new job opportunities.
“This factory is so big and there’s so many moving parts, there’s always something to learn,” says Jim Teffeteller who has worked at the Gibson acoustic factory for 11 years.
Teffeteller has been playing the guitar for about 20 years. It’s a hobby but also a part of his job.
"I play every single guitar that comes on my bench,” says Teffeteller. “I make sure all the components are correct on it and that it’s playing correctly.”
He then writes the warranty card and sends the guitar off to the shipping department.
“I’m the very last person at the end of the line here,” says Teffeteller.
The product development manager at the factory, Don Ruffatto says building a Gibson quality guitar from scratch is quite the process.
“The average time to build our standard models takes about 13-15 working days,” says Ruffatto.
The process begins on the woodworking side of the facility. Employees sand the raw wood and assemble the body of the guitar.
“And then that goes into the painting processes, final assembly stringing up the guitars testing the guitars,” says Josh Taborski who is the facility director for the factory.
This is what they call the ” finishing side” of the factory, which was a part of the facility expansion. The expansion more than doubled the size of the existing facility.
The factory itself has been around since the late 80s. It was time to expand but J.C Curleigh, the CEO of Gibson Guitars says the pandemic put this idea on hold.
But not for long…
"We were actually shut down for a while but then something interesting happened,” says Curleigh.
There was a huge surge in people wanting to buy Gibson guitars.
"People had a little bit of time on their hands and they had a talent that they wanted to pursue,” says Curleigh. “And those that played actually wanted to play more."
Curleigh says this demand has remained steady since the height of the pandemic but that meant it was time for upgrades like the new finishing side, office spaces, and a showroom.
"All the famous artists who play Gibson want to come here so that’s why we set up this showroom for them to come to Bozeman to see and feel the craftsmanship,” says Curleigh.
But of course, high demand for guitars means double the need for people who make them.
“That’s why we’re investing in this factory and looking for Bozeman, and Montana and our team members to invest with us,” said Curleigh. “It’s really about the team. We’re all prouder to walk through these doors now than we’ve ever been.”
As for Teffeteller, he agrees.
“I learn something new here at this factory every single day,” said Teffeteller.