Gibson CEO Takes Leave Of Absence From Rainforest Group While Feds Investigate Imported Wood

When agents raided Gibson Guitar’s manufacturing facility earlier this week, some articles pointed out that the company’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was on the board of the Rainforest Alliance, a group that certifies businesses to sell their goods under an environmentally sustainable label. Now the group has postponed its annual certification of Gibson Guitars, and Juszkiewicz is temporarily stepping down from the board.

From the Tennessean:

After the federal search, Juszkiewicz called the alliance and offered to take a leave of absence “to avoid conflict or distraction,” said President Tensie Whelan. “It’s very difficult to know what’s happening at this point,” Whelan added. “Our hope indeed is there will be no violations of the Lacey Act.”

Juszkiewicz has been on the group’s board for more than 15 years and has taken a lead role in urging the music instrument industry to use sustainable wood products, the group said.

NPR notes that the Rainforest Alliance was supposed to review the company’s records on Monday in order to renew Gibson’s certification. In light of the investigation, they’ve postponed that review, reports NPR:

That audit is now on hold as the US Fish and Wildlife Service looks for evidence that the another kind of wood used at Gibson came illegally from Madagascar. Company officials have said they’re cooperating with the investigation, and that they only use law-abiding suppliers.

“Gibson Guitar CEO leaves rainforest group after Nashville raid” [Tennessean] (Thanks to Smashville!)
“Rainforest Alliance Postpones Gibson Audit” [WPLN]

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Comments

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  1. zentex says:

    I wonder if the fines from the DNR are laughable IF they are found to be using illegal wood…

    and by laughable I mean maybe a million and a slap on the wrist. Why doesn’t the Fed’s just shut down companies for good?

  2. classic10 says:

    People talk so much about curbing the devastation on the rain forest without realizing how many things we buy are made from those trees. The demand dictates the market

  3. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    It sounds like the CEO is doing the right thing. Of course he’s ultimately responsible if somebody in the company decided to take a few shortcuts or otherwise game the system, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt while this plays out.

  4. edebaby says:

    When I woke up this morning
    I was feeling mighty good.
    My baby understood; had to do what she should
    Lying near a pile of wood.
    Laying it on some,
    Playing with it some,
    When I, I woke up with wood.

    ZZT

  5. econobiker says:

    Over 10 years ago I worked at a luxury yacht company that used teak in the boat interiors. Most was teak laminated plywood but there was also often need to solid teak in the edges. We used to receive roughly 2×2 or 3×3 square lengths 6′ to 10′ long with weird end cuts (like a 1x1x2″ long square stub) and always a drilled hole through on each end. I gathered that this was for the processing but then an R&D guy told me it was due to the wood being from “salvaged” ship decks. Right,,,virgin wood from out of commission ships, and when was the last time ships had actual wood decks?

  6. plj says:

    The country is tanking,we’re being overwhelmed with foreclosures, bankruptcies,illegal aliens and a host of other ills and we’re concerned with a guitar maker.

    Sounds about right.

  7. lostletters says:

    Honestly speaking, this is VERY serious violation going on. Yes, remember this economy collapsed on questionable business practices. The FBI does not just investigate guitar companies for no reason, this probably goes beyond just the wood and involves some smuggling operations the corporation may have set up.

    If you are wondering…Gibson guitars are big business…they start at $800 and can go up to $50,000. The incentives to do this are VERY high…wood is the most essential part of a guitar and the best woods are often from nearly extinct species. Brazillian Rosewood, Koa, Honduran Mahagony, African Ebony, etc. This is big business…so yes…this is a big deal. This could very well have a big effect.

  8. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    I wonder if Gibson gets fined, if they’ll raise their prices to offset any loss. I guess it wouldn’t bother me any, since I don’t currently play a Gibson, ON ACCOUNT OF THEM BEING VERY, VERY EXPENSIVE! [Emphasis mine.]

  9. badgeman46 says:

    Sorry, but file this under who gives a crap. TREES GROW BACK! I’ve been to the amazon several times, and TREES GROW BACK. Just cause some granola crunching liberals in Seattle don’t like it doesn’t mean that trees don’t grow back. Plus, how many trees could Giboson possibly use in a year. They aren’t a paper mill. When was the last tree that went extinct???? TREES GROW BACK!

  10. unclepoggy says:

    How much money could gibson actually save shipping trees from Madagascar? I mean really, I’m sure that somewhere in the US, there is a place where the optimal wood grows for Gibson Guitars. There simply has to be. There’s no way it’s cheaper to ship from halfway across the world then in your own country- unless their wood is really that cheap. Can anyone enlighten me?

  11. TheLurch says:

    I have heard stories of Gibson actually going to a woman’s house to buy her piano so they could use the woods for fretboards.

  12. zentex says:

    @H3ion: back in the 19th century no one cared…

  13. treimel says:

    @zentex:
    Or even the seventeenth and early eigteenth century :)

  14. SgtBeavis says:

    @doctor_cos:

    Yes, but pine and oak do not make for good guitars.