Sweetwater is expanding – in a major way.
The Fort Wayne-based online music instruments and audio gear retailer will invest $76.4 million into two new facilities on its 163-acre campus off U.S. 30 in west Fort Wayne. The development of a new warehouse and a new conference center will allow the company to add 1,009 new jobs over the next five years.
Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and others gathered Tuesday on the Sweetwater campus to announce the development plans.
“This new warehouse facility will accommodate the tremendous growth we’ve experienced recently,” said Chuck Surack, founder and president of Sweetwater. “Our sales continue to increase each and every year, which means we need more room to be able to serve our customers in the way to which they’re accustomed. We are delighted to be able to continue to expand in Fort Wayne, where it all started.”
Sweetwater plans to build a new, 350,000-square-foot warehousing facility that will provide product storage as well as gear testing, gear photography, offices, staff amenities, customer pickup and more, the company said. The new conference center will be 35,000 square feet, with room for up to 1,000 people where continuing education sessions for employees can be held.
The buildings should be open and operational by summer 2020, Sweetwater plans.
The more than 1,000 new jobs will be in distribution, logistics, sales, marketing, merchandising, programming/IT, along with various other administrative roles. Sweetwater already employs more than 1,300.
“Sweetwater continues to have a significant and positive presence in our community,” said Henry. “I applaud and thank Chuck Surack for his commitment to Fort Wayne. The innovative and unique work taking place at Sweetwater is a tremendous boost to our local economy and job growth opportunities. The success and new investments being experienced at Sweetwater help position Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana as a point of destination to live, work and play.”
Sweetwater was found in 1979, in a Volkswagen bus. Now the nation’s top online retailer of music instruments and audio gear, the company has invested more than $108 million since 2012 in major expansions.
A LOOK AT SWEETWATER’s GROWTH
1979 - Chuck Surack offers recording services out of his Volkswagen microbus
1990 - Sweetwater, with 6 employees, moves out of Surack's home into commercial building
1995 - Sweetwater launches informational website, www.sweetwater.com
Nov. 2006 - Sweetwater moves to current U.S. 30 location
Dec. 2011 - Sweetwater opens Sweetcars, a exotic and luxury automotive dealer
Sept. 2012 - Sweetwater purchases eyeglass and eye care Longe Optical
2012 - $23.5 million, 110,000 square foot addition at Sweetwater headquarters
2015 - Investment of $8.8 million adds in-house marketing department and state-of-the-art video studio
Dec. 2015 - Sweetwater buys Fort Wayne-based Mynett Music, a music instrument retailer
2017 - Sweetwater supports a major renovation of the Clyde Theatre in Quimby Village into a high-quality music venue
Sept. 2018 - Sweetwater announces new 2nd, 3rd and weekend shifts with creation of 150 new jobs
Oct. 2018 - Sweetwater investing $76.4 million to build 2 new facilities and add more than 1,000 jobs