It's not uncommon to see small family businesses fizzle after a generation or two. But in Farmingdale, New York, Jim D'Addario has been keeping a manufacturing tradition alive that began in Italy in 1680.
D'Addario comes from a long line of musical instrument string makers. His grandfather Charles D'Addario brought the trade to America in the early 1900s, and laid the foundation for the business to transition and plant a stake on U.S. soil. In 1973, the family business was launched in New York under the name D'Addario and Co. Customers today include rocker Lenny Kravitz and country star Keith Urban.
Jim D'Addario, now CEO, joined the business at 13, with a love for music and tinkering.
"I was always magnetically pulled towards it," he said. "Once I fell in love with playing the guitar, I became the string tester and product development guy."
Aside from the family's lineage in the trade, another rarity is the company—projected to do $175 million in sales this year—is able to keep 95 percent of its manufacturing in the U.S. While most manufacturing associated with musical instruments and parts has moved overseas, D'Addario and Co. has firm roots in Famingdale.
The company also has a sawmill in Tennessee to cut wood for drumsticks, a factory in California for making reeds for woodwind instruments, as well as cane plantations in Argentina and France as a source for reeds. The remaining 5 percent of its accessories that can't be made in America are imported from Asia. Globally, D'Addario employs close to 1,200 workers.