Happy New Year! You’re fired! : Guitar Center Just Laid Off 180 Employees

157745-GuitarCenterGuitar Center rang in the New Year by laying off 180 employees on Jan 28th. This follows what has been a shit-sandwich of a year for the music instrument retailer.

You might recall that in April, Guitar Center was repossessed by Ares Management for a little less than half of what Bain Capital paid for it 8 years earlier.

Following that, Behringer, arguably GC’s most profitable live sound line, told GC to get bent in a very public and ugly back and forth where Berhinger came out smelling like a rose.

GC? Not so much.

GC was seen as trying to strong arm Behringer into some sort of “I’ll gladly pay you whenever the hell I feel like it for sound equipment today” kind of scenario.

This never-ending stream of bad luck was followed by GC liquidating over $13 million bucks worth of gear from Musician’s Friend. 


Guitar Center abruptly fired one president and CEO who had never worked in the music instrument industry and replaced him with another president and CEO who had never worked in the music instrument industry.

Of course, Darrell Webb (I like to call him Webbers) did run The Sports Authority at one point, which, like GC…wait for it…was owned by Bain Capital at one point. Of course, I’m sure it’s a complete coincidence, and GC hired Webbers solely on his own merits.

Anywho, the 180 employees that GC laid off were made up of corporate and field supervision staff at its Westlake Village, California headquarters. Since Webbers was probably too distraught to make a public comment, they sent out Michael Amkreutz Because when subtlety is needed, you always send in the Germans. Amiright?

Amkreutz wanted to assure everyone in the room that “Our customer base is strong, and for them business will continue as usual.” –The Music Trades, January 2015 Further, he stressed that there wouldn’t be any reductions at any of the GC store locations. We’ll just have to take his word for it for now.

Some are speculating that this has to do with EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). Basically, cutting off the excess fat in order to increase their earnings. Some also attribute this to GC’s insane amount of dept. Both of which make sense, but it also raises the question if GC will continue to increase its number of stores like they have continued to state. Amkreutz noted that their “store opening and remodeling program will continue.”

Of course, this could be a good thing for Guitar Center. Before Bain Capital had taken over, Guitar Center Stores were more reliant on the employees that worked at those particular locations. Once Bain got into the mix, they started laying off some of their more seasoned sales associates and fattening up their middle management.

Is this a return to the glory days of Guitar Center? I guess that we’ll see what they do about the employees at their 260 + locations around the US. If they give them all raises and hire people who actually know their shit, then maybe Guitar Center will return to being a cool place.

But, probably not.

If they wanted to do that, they would put out a strong PR and Marketing campaign to cushion the blow from them laying off so many people so close to the holidays. They would’ve also done it incrementally to ensure that the stores were ready to take on more senior management responsibilities.  By bringing down the hatchet so heavily, this was more of a sign to investors and to financial onlookers that some heavy changes are coming down. It reads something like this:

To whomever we are borrowing money from: 

At GC, our balls are huge. Those pussies that were watching the shop earlier? Yeah. They’re all fucking gone. What’s left. Nothing but balls. We’re going to make your money back and then some. You’ll have so much fucking money that you’ll be able to buy a camel. Why? Who the fuck cares? You’re rich, and you’ve got a fucking camel! Keep eyes on us bitches. Because you’re about to see some serious shit! 

Lovingly yours,

Guitar Center

Of course, abrupt changes like this don’t happen without a lot of bloodshed, and my guess is that there’s a ton more to come.




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Filed Under: FeaturedNewsCommentary / Editorials


About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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