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Thread: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    I wondered about Heritage guitars, do they no longer build at that site? I saw no mention in the article other than some of the historic areas would be preserved. The Heritage website doesn't address it.
    Clark Beavans

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    🎶 Play Pretty 🎶 Greg Connor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    I just checked the Heritage Guitar Owners Club site. I found no information about manufacturing guitars going forward. Its hard to imagine that nothing would change. I have two Heritage guitars. Both of them are like Gibsons on steroids. They are outstanding instruments!

    http://www.heritageownersclub.com/forums/

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Since all the hand built aspect of “Heritage” was sold and the veteran staff was walked out the door, to replace things with a more mass produced “cookie cutter” production ethic, I have not been paying much attention to the goings on down there.
    The local press is hailing this as bringing “hundreds of jobs” to a severely depressed part of town. I wish them luck but, when customers will have to drive through sync a rough (I mean bad, gunfire bad) part of town over terrible roads, I don’t see a particularly grand outcome. But, I only live here.
    I do hope it works and cleans up that part of town but, not holding my breath until 2025 to see the results.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Whenever I see businessmen or politicians making speeches or issuing press releases claiming their pet project they're pushing will create "hundreds of jobs," I view this with a lot of skepticism. That's so often what they think the public wants to hear, so they say it, hoping to sway skeptics and rally public support. I tend to just maintain my skepticism.

    Nice to see the smokestack is still there. I hope that's going to stay.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    NMC
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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    If everyone on this thread would chip in to purchase me a new mando from Max and Laurie Girourad, I hereby proclaim and guarantee that it will supplement 2 jobs in the existing job market in the northeastern part of the United States. I'm asking for your support for my plan to help sustain jobs!

    PM me for my Paypal or Venmo info..
    Chris Cravens

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Whenever I see businessmen or politicians making speeches or issuing press releases claiming their pet project they're pushing will create "hundreds of jobs," I view this with a lot of skepticism. That's so often what they think the public wants to hear, so they say it, hoping to sway skeptics and rally public support. I tend to just maintain my skepticism.

    Nice to see the smokestack is still there. I hope that's going to stay.



    Well, if the front door with the mandolin-shaped window is still there, that'd be MC, Or is that long gone?
    JB, the rendering does show the restored smokestack so one might assume that it will be in the final design, if it were gone what would the point be? The weird thing is, Kalamazoo has hundreds of hotel rooms as empty as a brides nightgown, do we really need this? Development for developments sake seems destined for failure but, I’m not PlazaCorp. What do I know?
    The last time I was down there, some time back, the F style window was still there though most of the staff had no idea what it was.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Is this... what day is this?

    (No, not for another month...)

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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

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    Well, we can hope for the best on such a grand plan.
    A couple of years ago my wife & I were returning home from a weekend in Michigan. On a whim, we decided to exit in Kalamazoo to find the old Gibson plant. We did a bit of Googling & we found our way there. We took a few pix. I had my old Snakehead to hold in the pix, returning home after 90 years.The smokestack was partially dismantled. The GIBS was gone, but the ON remained.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The Heritage sign was still on the door.
    Im glad we made the pilgrimage while some of the historic structures remained

    Joe B
    A Splendid Time is Guaranteed for All

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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Well, that is a happy sight, for sure. Thanks, pops! I swung by there fall of 1984, not knowing Gibson had moved to Nashville. But I found it somehow, without GPS or any such thing. Honestly, I don't remember the smokestack. But I remember the door, and thought it was so cool. Somehow I remember it as being blue, a sort of battleship grey blue. Wonder if Heritage stripped the paint, or replaced it altogether. Anyway, it looks nice.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Okay, I was unaware that Heritage Guitars had been sold, ca. 2016.

    https://bluegrasstoday.com/changes-a...taff-luthiers/

    Glad my Heritage 535 Classic is ca. 2003, it's a considerably better built instrument than my '73 SG Special, which was built in the same factory.

    Had my 15 yr old self realized how sloppily the SG was constructed when I bought it new in 1973, maybe I'd have looked for a better way to spend my $400, thereby preventing my somewhat wiser 50 yr old self from sinking another $400 into it (a dozen years ago) to bring it up to what it should've been then. It sure has a lot of miles on it, all mine, which is the main reason I can't yet bear to let it go. I rarely play it now that I've acquired the Heritage 535.
    Clark Beavans

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Tree, my guitar player probably did the binding on your guitar!
    It’s sad that the place is frankly turning into a “Musically themed” amusement park with precious regard to the larger history of the company, it will be interesting to see how things shape up as a hotel but, I have “reservations”.
    I know, I’m going to my corner.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    I know this sounds like a classic developer pie-in-the-sky project, but my Pollyanna side views this as a pretty amazing possibility.

    Tim, of course, is our insider in K-Zoo, but I've been through the neighborhood any number of times back and forth from ChiRaq just for the awe of it.
    It is a beat down part of town that could certainly use an infusion.

    Dicey proposition, but with a sustained investment in web promotion umph they might be able to draw in folks off I-94 and from the region to inflate some energy. Certainly the Michigan brewery culture can rebound after the Covid years.

    Could be a whole lot worse. Given that it is a void-oid part of town, not much chance of the old works being knocked down just to be a parking lot or more crummy housing (as in our other hometown of ATX).
    But still: My mandolin was fabbed there.

    I wish them nothing but good fortune.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    This is right down the street from where I live. To think of how many guitarist played their 1st guitar that was built here is amazing. Sad to see it sit idle with all that history oozing from it. Danelectro Neptune City NJ.

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Yes Mick, the surrounding area is “depressed” to say the least, gunfire does erupt from the street one block over pretty often in the summer, the roads are ghastly. “Pie in the sky” project is a very kind way of putting it. The brewery saturation in Kalamazoo has gotten to the point of “who cares” one of the better ones (about five blocks from this site) just went down the tube, there is a brewery every three blocks so unless this place does something truly incredible, I have my doubts about any kind of success with that aspect of the project.
    I chauffeured two “sister” F-2’s there with their owners a few years ago but, I don’t have the picture to prove it, sorry.
    There is a little saloon a few blocks away where I have been told by a very reliable source that back “in the day” one of the managers of the factory used to stroll to with the likes of Les Paul for a beer after the days work was complete. Sadly, not one of the employees or even the current owner knows anything about that. More loss of history through apathy.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    ...Sadly, not one of the employees or even the current owner knows anything about that. More loss of history through apathy.
    Thirty-odd (and they were odd, no doubt!) years ago I was on the board of our local arts council, and we hired a woman named Sesta Peekstock as executive director; she came from a similar job in Kalamazoo. I asked her about Gibson's profile in the arts scene in that city, and she said it wasn't that much of a participant. Every now and then there'd be a press release if a noted musician was visiting to get a custom instrument, or something like that, but apparently Gibson wasn't a major "corporate citizen" in the sense of maintaining a high local profile. This may have been during the Norlin era, when G was just part of a conglomerate, but for whatever reason, she said the company didn't leave a major impression on Kalamazoo, despite its international reputation.

    I stopped in Dolgeville NY years ago -- a town that actually changed its name from Brockett's Bridge, in honor of Alfred Dolge, who brought the Autoharp factory there from Philadelphia. You'd think they'd at least put up a sign at the edge of town, mentioning the fact, but no -- Dolge went bankrupt just before 1900, his big house burned down years ago, and the old factory makes some kind of textiles now. Sic transit gloria mundi, I guess.
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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Yes Mick, the surrounding area is “depressed” to say the least, gunfire does erupt from the street one block over pretty often in the summer, the roads are ghastly. “Pie in the sky” project is a very kind way of putting it. The brewery saturation in Kalamazoo has gotten to the point of “who cares” one of the better ones (about five blocks from this site) just went down the tube, there is a brewery every three blocks so unless this place does something truly incredible, I have my doubts about any kind of success with that aspect of the project.
    I chauffeured two “sister” F-2’s there with their owners a few years ago but, I don’t have the picture to prove it, sorry.
    There is a little saloon a few blocks away where I have been told by a very reliable source that back “in the day” one of the managers of the factory used to stroll to with the likes of Les Paul for a beer after the days work was complete. Sadly, not one of the employees or even the current owner knows anything about that. More loss of history through apathy.
    That's not a pretty picture, Tim, but it sounds like an accurate one. (Particularly the condition of roads.) You would be in the know.
    The brewery scene might truly be saturated in Michigan.
    I'm not a beer drinker so I've only looked on in amazement at their spread back home in Austin. Always wonder how another will squeeze in.
    A growing population helps.
    When I was a kid it was the "Famous Amos" factor. Seemed someone thought a cookie store was the key to saving / repurposing old buildings.

    Still....is there a Plan B?
    As an architect, I'm just pulling for someone to put a new roof on the building (or fix the old one) and maybe rewire it and update the HVAC.
    If the brewery fails then that work will at least be done and building will be around for another 50 years.
    If Rock Hard Cafe can be coaxed into doing that, let's go.

    As you know, once the roof goes in Michigan, that's it. Game over.
    Witness: Detroit.

    Mick
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  24. #18
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plans for the Gibson Kalamazoo Site

    Yeah, sorry I can paint a more positive picture but, have a feeling this will get partially finished and something will fall apart. There has been talk of a convention center occupying some fallow ground in the downtown area but, there is already the “Radisson” where the “Coopers Glen” music festival moved to some years ago when it became a February festival a number of years ago. And that venue lays dormant for long stretches at a time so, aside from the boondoggle for a “new” venue we already have a plethora of hotel rooms going begging.
    In fact the city has decided that some of the older (but still sound) places will be perfect places to place the city’s homeless. I admire the sentiment but, cannot believe that the tax payers will support this for very long. I suppose that might be a reason for a hipster hotel in the heart of the most depressed part of town but, I’m not one of the city fathers and wield no sway aside from the ability to vote when things are on a ballot. Since I am a home owner, the hotel will not make one iota of difference in my life.
    As to Allen’s comments about Gibson’s “community presence”, when the place was in its hey day there was a far reaching presence, by that I mean the “Gibson Girls” as well as Lloyd Loar’s touring (though that was not entirely under the aegis of “company work” any more than personal engagements.
    In my life in Kalamazoo, the only companies that have done and community philanthropic efforts have been the Stryker Company and the Upjohn Company. Since the various sales of Upjohn to Phrmacia and ultimately to Pfizer many of the corporate endowments have dried up as well as the demolition of several examples of whet were viable, as well as beautiful buildings. Don’t let me begin to squeak about the urban sprawl which has taken away a lot of woodland but, that’s everywhere.
    Sorry guys, this is my home and I get a bit animated when I see things being either under appreciated for what they are and land being treated as disposable.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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