Following more than 30 years of service to Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, long-time Chairman and CEO Bill Mendello announced that he will retire from his position later this year. A corporate succession plan has been in place for nearly a year in anticipation of this planned retirement and Mendello will remain on FMIC’s Board of Directors. Following an extensive candidate search, a successor to the position of CEO was recently appointed by the Board of Directors and will be announced at a later date.
“I have been uniquely privileged to call Fender my ‘second family’ for over 30 years. Now, after a 45 year career, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family, traveling and pursuing personal interests,” said Mendello. “I am very proud of the work I have accomplished and the people I have come to know in this industry and I am especially happy to be able to retire with a great amount of confidence in the company’s future.”
“I have admired and respected the hard work and great results that Bill Mendello has consistently delivered throughout his career at Fender and believe his contributions to the success of the company cannot be overstated,” said Mark Fukunaga, longtime FMIC Director and Vice Chairman of the Board.
“Now that the year long succession planning process and CEO search has concluded, we are pleased to be able to offer Bill our immense gratitude. Bill has proven to be a successful and important figure in Fender history and on behalf of everyone in the company, I thank him for his dedication and wish him the very best in his retirement,“ Michael Lazarus, FMIC Director and Managing Partner of Weston Presidio, FMIC’s largest stockholder.
Mendello’s career in the music industry began in 1977, when he joined CBS Musical Instruments Division as the Vice President and Controller. This division then included such well-known brand names as Steinway (pianos), Rodgers (organs), Gemeinhardt (flutes), Lyon & Healy (harps) and, of course Fender. In 1981, Mr. Mendello relocated when the Division moved to Fullerton, Calif. and was appointed Senior Vice President of Fender.
On March 12, 1985, Mendello was a key figure in completing a leveraged buy-out of Fender Musical Instruments from CBS, Inc. to create the newly named Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC). Following the buyout, Mendello was part of the management team and was later named President and Chief Operating Officer of FMIC. From a small general office and warehouse in Brea, Calif., and a single manufacturing facility in Corona, Calif., FMIC has since grown to include state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in two countries, and sales and marketing offices around the globe.
Mendello was appointed Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of FMIC in 2005. With his depth of experience, and unique ability to understand and solve complex issues associated with all aspects of the business, Mendello has proven to be a universally-respected and admired leader of the iconic FMIC family of brands. During his time in leadership at FMIC, he has helped bring the company to new heights of visibility, profitability, and brand equity while continually advancing the quality and prestige associated with the Fender name.
In recent years, Mendello led the efforts that resulted in the successful acquisition of Kaman Music Inc. (now KMC Music Inc.), the largest independent U.S. distributor of musical instruments and accessories. KMC Music produces and/or distributes Ovation®, Takamine® and Hamer® guitars; Latin Percussion®, Gretsch® Drums, Gibraltar® Hardware, Toca® Percussion, Sabian® cymbals and Genz Benz® amplifiers; in addition to a full catalog of more than 36,000 wholesale music products.
At the end of 2008, FMIC was for the first time recognized by The Music Trades magazine as the largest U.S. music and audio supplier in a study based on annual sales ranking. The company topped the list again in 2009 and remains well-positioned to maintain its industry leader status.
Today, FMIC brands include Fender®, Squier®, Guild®, Gretsch®, Jackson®, Charvel®, EVH®, SWR® and Groove Tubes®, among others. FMIC also manufactures a complete line of professional audio equipment under the Fender brand, including the innovative Passport® portable sound system. Fender also offers a complete line of accessories, including strings, authorized replacement parts, cases, straps, clothing and much more. For more information, visit www.fender.com.