The namesakes and co-founders of Australia’s second biggest guitar manufacturers, Cole Clark Guitars, are exiting the company with former Billy Hyde executive Miles Jackson appointed to lead the Australian-built luthiers.
The Age reports that the changeover comes as the company looks to expand with a third factory location in Melbourne’s Bayswater that will help grow both new domestic and export markets. Both fields which Jackson is familiar with in his former Asia-Pacific sales role with US manufacturer QSC Audio, which he left last month to head Australian Native Musical Instruments, which trades under the Cole Clark brand.
Mr. Jackson was also one of the company’s founding investors, which profited $35.9 million for new guitars in Australia last year – led by imports from China, Indonesia, the US, Mexico and South Korea.
The company’s founders, Bradley Clark and Adam Cole are moving onto new business and music ventures respectively. Cole to focus on running his own retail shop, Valley Music in Lilydale, as well as running a music teaching school while fronting his own metal band, Bugdust.
Meanwhile Clark relocated to China last year, a country that is currently entering into a guitar-making boom thanks to its cheap production and shipping costs, producing more guitars annually than the entire Australian domestic market. Clark is intending to tap into this growing area with a business deal between Sydney’s Australis Music and Pearl River, the world’s biggest maker of pianos, that he’s overseeing with instrument manufacturer, Guangzhou Ashton Music.
As Cole Clark Guitar’s new CEO, Mr Jackson spoke to The Age of the difficulty of producing instruments in Australia because of the high operating costs compared to the appearance of cheaper alternatives provided by internet merchants and makers. Cole Clark currently operates with thirty staff members that produce between 80-100 handmade guitars a week, which pride themselves on using indigenous woods – like, Queensland Maple, Tasmanian Blackwood and Bunya Pine; which Bradley Clark discovered while on a regional trip for materials in 1998.
Cole Clark guitars are used and endorsed by the likes of Australian legends Tim Rogers, Tex Perkins as well as Xavier Rudd, whose latest album Spirit Bird (given the Tone Deaf verdict here) prominently features his custom-made Fat Lady 12-string acoustic. Rudd praised Bradley Clark’s guitar-making skills as both a former factory manager and then-CEO of Maton Australia, now one of Cole Clark’s leading competitors.
”Brad was really inspiring and so I kept with him when he started up Cole Clark,” Rudd said, speaking to The Age. “The Aussie woods are always a bonus in that fat bottom end of a hollow-body instrument and the pick-up system has always been great for consistency on different PAs and venues.”