In 2004, while attending the Music Messe Trade Show, in Frankfurt, Roger Schmidt, who was at that time employed as a sales manager and product scout, came across the booth of the Czech guitar builder, Frantisek Furch. Having been around guitars his whole life, as well as being an avid fingerstyle player, the guitars on display immediately grabbed his attention. After spending a good while sampling the many fine instruments, Roger had no doubt in his mind, these were especially good guitars.
The following year, Roger returned to the same show, now as an independent sale representative. His main mission was to have another careful look at the guitars he couldn’t seem to get out of his mind. Sure enough, they gave him an even better impression the second time around. After some discussions with the sales manager on hand, it was agreed, that they would begin cooperating together, towards the introduction of their guitars, into the USA and Canada.
With very limited resources, but much determination, Roger set about to see what could be done. He pretty much “maxed out” is personal credit card purchasing a small selection of samples. When they arrived a few months later, he took them, along with his family, on a “working vacation”. In less than three weeks, they had visited numerous music stores in over twelve American states. The impressions and reactions were almost unanimous at each stop; the guitars were deemed to be of very high quality and truly impressive. The one “hesitation” that kept coming up was the brand name. Frantisek Furch, who had been building his guitars since 1981, had already established a fine reputation, selling the guitars with his family name as the brand throughout Europe and Japan. However, the general feeling was that it would probably be best to identify the guitars with a more marketable brand name for the North American market. Heeding this sound advice, Roger came up the name of “Stonebridge”, inspired from the Charles Bridge in Prague, which was built in the 12th century, and made entirely of cut stone. Before this world famous historical landmark was officially named after a much loved king, the people just called it the Stone Bridge. Frantisek Furch readily agreed with the concept and the brand was then created and developed by Roger Schmidt.
In 2010, Roger joined forces with Ken Wilson, who is now the president and CEO of Stonebridge Guitars International. Together, along with the help of their USA Sales Director, Todd Allison, who has been with the company since 2007, they have worked tirelessly to build up the company, and the awareness of these remarkable guitars. Their main strategy for lasting success has been to build up genuine “street cred” through down to earth hard work, and conviction in a superior product that inspires one to create. By staying this course, Stonebridge Guitars has firmly cemented themselves in the world of fine hand crafted boutique guitars, with a continued steady growth and impeccable reputation.
Stonebridge Guitars are now in the hands of many fine players, many who are recognized by their fans and peers, as being at the very top of their genres. As well, there are many emerging artists who have come to own, and hone their craft with our guitars. We have made many good friends along the way and look forward to making many more. We hope that this might become the case for you, as well!
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