Good question, Howard. Just minutes ago, I had a conversation with one of our machinists in the building I work in about their personal finances. This is a continuing conversation that started the day after our announcement. He and his wife have taken control of their finances and keep making very positive changes that he wanted to share with me. This is almost a daily event now, because with ownership, most people here feel like they have an opportunity to do well for themselves, and that changes their own habits and viewpoints here and at home. These are some of the best conversations I’ve ever had in the nearly half-century I’ve worked here at Taylor Guitars. These conversations all naturally come around to the work we do here as it provides the family income to have the opportunity to build a solid financial life. This year has brought high demand for our guitars, and our employee-owners across the company gladly put forth their very best effort. It’s amazing to watch how much is being accomplished. I’m pleased to see people be even more interested in the quality of products we produce and what value we can offer a customer. It’s a good atmosphere here at Taylor. It’s easy to engage in positive changes when people feel a sense of ownership and when they feel their name, their stamp, is on not only the guitar but on how we conduct our business.
Stephanie, this is a question I am being asked more often lately. At first, it took me a little by surprise, and my mind would run ahead in an attempt to say something profound. I’d try to think of impulses or frailties that I suffered from at an early age when starting Taylor Guitars with Kurt that my older, wiser self would tell my younger self. I found I was struggling to give an answer that I truly believed after I was done saying it. It may come as a surprise to find that my older self is pretty pleased with my younger self. Consequently, my answer today is that I’d say something like, “Bob, you didn’t do too bad for a kid who was a total woodshop and metal shop nerd, and who knew nothing about guitars. Thank you for choosing that path and getting my older self to this point. I appreciate it.”
Jim, I think I’ve learned to not predict the outcome, thinking I already know. I’ve learned to just test it. Often, we can test things faster than we can pontificate about it. I’ve learned to say, “Well, there are reasons why it might work and reasons why it might not work, so let’s try it and see.” We recently had a major breakthrough on drying wood. Two men on our team, Randy Malaise and Gabriel Boquiren, suggested a change that I would have never suggested because I was pretty sure the method I’d chosen years ago was the right choice. This had to do with what type of fan to use. I know a little about fans, and I had my doubts. At the end of my argument against the change, I just said, “But let’s try. It costs little to try.” And their idea worked very well, a huge improvement. It cost nothing to try, and our company benefitted greatly from their idea.
Craig and Lisa, it would be hard for me to recommend what other manufacturers should do. They all have their way of dealing with natural resource depletion, and I know it concerns them. For me and for us at Taylor, we believe in growing trees. It pleases us, and we see the sense in it. I think we’re onto something, and I suppose we’ll have to come back in 50 years to see if we were right. I know the British were right when they planted mahogany trees in Fiji as well as India about 75 or more years ago. We get to make guitars with those trees thanks to them. I hope we’ll have the same effect on future guitar building. In a slight change of topic, I’d say that I would love to influence consumers on their own personal daily habits. I’d start with how much plastic is used in each consumer’s daily life.
Josh, we don’t have plans as of right now. There’s very little ebony that qualifies as side and back material, and together with our Crelicam partner Madinter, it makes more sense for them to supply this wood to the small shops and individual luthiers rather than use it in our factory. They’re beautiful guitars, and I’m sure we’ll see some limited amounts here and there, but currently we have no plans to release an ebony model.
Hi Ron, we’ve made a few curved braces on test guitars over the years. We never found any substantial improvement that would offset the cost of producing such a brace in a factory situation. In fact, we preferred the function of a straight brace. There are some clever luthiers now making good guitars with curved braces. I love looking at their work. But it’s not very practical for us.
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