Maryland’s PRS Guitars plans expansion, new hires
Paul Reed Smith Guitars (PRS)—beloved by rock stars and students alike—plans to take its guitar manufacturing operation to the next level.
With assistance from a $100,000 conditional grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) and a $200,000 conditional grant from the Queen Anne’s County Board of Commissioners, PRS plans to introduce a new line of acoustic guitars and add 20 new full-time employees over the next three years. PRS has also agreed to remain in Queen Anne’s County for the next 10 years, where it is the largest full-time private employer, DBED announced Thursday.
“We are very excited that the State and County have approved the grants that will enable PRS to begin the expansion of our acoustic production,” said PRS President Jack Higginbotham.
From humble beginnings, PRS has become the third largest electric guitar manufacturer in the United States, with products sold in more than 80 countries.
Founder Paul Reed Smith first began manufacturing electric guitars in his parents’ Bowie home in 1975. Smith later formed a small team of craftsmen and moved operations to Annapolis. By the 1980s, world-famous guitarist Carlos Santana and other musicians had begun using and promoting PRS guitars. The company moved to Stevensville in Queen Anne’s County in the mid-1990s. In 2001, it launched overseas production of a less expensive line of guitars geared toward younger players and first-time guitar owners. In 2009, PRS expanded production to include acoustic guitars and guitar amplifiers.
DBED, a longtime supporter of the company, provided PRS with a $1.5 million loan and tax exempt bond issuance beginning in 2006. Using these funds, PRS expanded its facility by 89,000 square feet and created a much larger state-of-the-art factory floor. In 2013, PRS launched the S2 Series of guitars, which stands for “Stevensville 2,” and celebrates the company’s Maryland heritage.
“Growing from a small operation more than 30 years ago to now one of the top electric guitar makers in the world, PRS is certainly one of the rock stars of Maryland’s business community,” said DBED Secretary Mike Gill. “We are pleased to continue to play a role in the company’s growth and success.”
“We are ecstatic that PRS continues to invest and expand its headquarters and manufacturing operations in Queen Anne’s County. The economic impact and name recognition they bring to our community is tremendous. PRS is a great example of how the County’s workforce, location and business climate support high caliber international companies.” said Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Paul Comfort.