Headquartered in El Cajon, California, Taylor Guitars was founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug. The two first met while working at a hippie guitar shop in San Diego called the American Dream and partnered to buy the business when owner Sam Radding announced he was selling the shop. Though young when they started (Bob was 19, Kurt was 21), their shared passion for guitar making, along with their gritty resolve to make a living doing what they loved, nurtured the company’s gradual transformation from a struggling shop into the leading global manufacturer of premium acoustic guitars.
Today, Taylor employs over 1,200 people and produces hundreds of guitars per day exclusively in two factory complexes in the U.S and Mexico: El Cajon, California, and in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. (Taylor does not manufacture any guitars in Asia.) The company maintains an active dealer network, with Taylor guitars sold through hundreds of retail locations in North America and with international distribution to 60 countries, including a distribution warehouse and factory service center in the Netherlands.
An Industry Innovator
By blending innovative manufacturing techniques with tone-enhancing designs, Taylor has set industry-leading standards for playability, craftsmanship and musical performance. Bob Taylor’s pioneering use of computer mills, lasers and other high-tech tools and proprietary machinery helped transition guitar making from its old-world heritage into the modern era and enabled the company to produce guitars with unprecedented precision and consistency.
Along the way, Bob and Kurt have attracted many talented, likeminded people as employees, shaping a widely admired culture of creativity and innovation that has never lost sight of the company’s underlying commitment to improving the guitar-playing experience. In 2011, Bob Taylor hired luthier Andy Powers to lead Taylor’s guitar design efforts forward for another generation. As Master Guitar Designer, Andy has continued to advance Taylor’s product designs with groundbreaking innovations like V-Class® bracing architecture and many other award-winning guitar models. In 2019, Andy joined Bob and Kurt as a third ownership partner.
Transitioning to 100% Employee Owned
Looking to preserve Taylor’s culture and values for the long-term future, Bob, Kurt and Andy announced in 2021 that they had transitioned ownership of the company to Taylor’s employees through an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Rather than selling the company to another guitar company or outside investor, they felt the best way to position the company for future success was to entrust it to the people within who are the lifeblood of its innovative culture and have directly contributed to its growth and success.
Taylor Guitars is now proudly 100% employee owned. Bob and Kurt continue to steward the company as President and Chief Executive Officer, respectively, Andy Powers continues as the creative wellspring of guitar development, and Taylor’s established leadership team, comprised of seasoned Taylor managers, continues to oversee day-to-day operations. And with a direct stake in the company’s future success, Taylor’s employee owners are more committed than ever to providing customers with the best possible Taylor experience.