New Gibson CEO revealed: former Levi’s president to focus on 'core business' of guitars

Following the departure of embattled CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson has finally named the new head of the company as James ‘JC’ Curleigh, former president of Levi Strauss & Co.

Other new appointments include Cesar Gueikian as CMO (chief merchant officer); Kim Mattoon as CFO (chief financial officer); and Christian Schmitz as CPO (chief production officer), all of which are effective from 1 November 2018.

A press release issued by Gibson states the new team will “collectively focus on setting the conditions for success for Gibson Brands to continue to create high quality instruments, develop meaningful partnerships and deliver profitable growth across the core business of guitars and beyond”.

This is the beginning of a new era for Gibson that will build on its proven heritage and iconic status

James ‘JC’ Curleigh

This bodes well for the future of the company, whose bankruptcy earlier this year was in large part down to its unsuccessful expansion into consumer electronics.

“As a musician, I have always treasured my Gibson guitars and I have the utmost respect for the iconic Gibson brand and those who choose to play Gibson guitars,” said Curleigh.

“Gibson has been a pioneer of craftsmanship and innovation in musical instruments and has been synonymous with shaping the sounds of generations and genres for more than 100 years. I am very honoured to play a leading role with this iconic brand.

“This is the beginning of a new era for Gibson that will build on its proven heritage and iconic status. We are focusing on the future and off to a fresh start, with a strong financial foundation, a committed and experienced new leadership team and new ownership that is equally passionate about the brand.

“As the industry leader, we have an opportunity and an obligation to set the best conditions for success for our brands, our fans, our partners and our own extended team. I look forward to leading Gibson confidently into the future.”

Christian values

The other key appointment for guitarists is Christian Schmitz, who will be in charge of best practices in manufacturing, “supply chain synergy” and operational excellence across Gibson’s US and global production platform.

In recent years, guitarists have occasionally levelled criticisms at Gibson build quality - despite former CEO Henry Juszkiewicz branding such claims “poppycock”. They will be hoping that Schmitz can deliver increased consistency among production guitars.

“Having worked with the Gibson team for the past year, I am confident we can continue to turn our production focus into a competitive advantage for Gibson,” says Schmitz.

Gibson emerge from bankruptcy protection on 1 November 2018, following which the KKR investment firm will be the majority owner.

Suffice to say, we can’t wait to see what these new appointments bring…

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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