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D’Addario: Creating a digitally Inspired Global Culture

D’Addario, known for its superior musical strings, has a reputation that dates back literally hundreds of years to a different continent. “The D’Addario roots have been traced as far back as the 1600s in Italy, where family manufactured strings,” says Brian Vance, VP of fretted strings and accessories for D’Addario.

D’Addario was founded in 1974 by brothers Jim and John D’Addario in Long Island, New York.

"Their grandfather, Charles D’Addario, migrated to the United States in 1905,” says Brian. “He came through Ellis Island and imported strings from Italy and eventually started making strings in New York.”

What started as a small family business nearly fifty years ago is now the largest musical instrument accessories manufacturer in the world. It is still a family business, with Jim D’Addario as the lead in product innovation, John D’Addario III serving as CEO, Michael D’Addario overseeing global operations, and John and Michael’s sister, Suzanne D’Addario, who is responsible for the D’Addario Foundation.

The company’s mission, clearly published on its website, is to create a digitally inspired global culture that continues to elevate what they make, how they work and foster relationships that consumers, retailers, suppliers, and employees covet. Add to that the vision to be one of the most admired and inspiring global companies through their passion for innovation and spirit of responsibility, and you can get a sense of the kind of company D’Addario strives to be every day.

The vision and mission of D’Addario come down to five key values, explains Brian.

“The five values are curiosity, passion, candor, family and responsibility. A lot of thought and work went into those words, and it is something the company really honors.” Brian says that Jim is a curious person by nature, and that led to everything from science, technology, and mechanics to the supply chain affecting how things are done at the company. “That approach has carried down to printing our own packaging, designing and manufacturing our own machinery, and drawing our own wire as a way to control quality.”

The company’s key initiatives speak to its philosophy. Playback is D’Addario’s string recycling program. “We are trying to work with our customers to recycle their old strings when they buy new ones.” By signing up for a Players Circle account on the D’Addario website, strings can be shipped directly to the company or dropped off at local string recycling centers.

Another initiative is centered around the company’s ProMark Drumsticks. Play.Plant.Preserve is a landmark reforestation project where tree seeds are planted for each pair of drumsticks sold. Approximately 85,000 trees are planted annually.

Finally, the D’Addario Foundation works to champion positive change in the world through music. “We work to get instruments and accessories into the hands of children and provide a musical education for them, which is often life-changing for some,” says Brian.

Over the years, D’Addario has acquired other brands, including ProMark drumsticks and EVANS Drumheads. Rico Reeds, D’Addario Orchestral Strings and Puresound Snare Wire rounds out the company’s offerings.

While all genres of musicians use the company’s products, Brian says that bluegrass and Americana are important components of D’Addario’s business.

“That community is extremely loyal and supportive.” Brian was widely exposed to bluegrass and acoustic roots music when he first started with D’Addario 22 years ago. “I went to many of the major festivals, including Gray Fox, MerleFest and IBMA. I fell in love with the music and with the artists. Now we send new employees to those same festivals, and it’s rewarding to see them fall in love with it, too.”

D'Addario’s artist roster is impressive, with musicians from all genres from around the globe. “We make a great product that works for them,” says Brian. “The product keeps them loyal, and they are appreciative of the brand and what we do for the community. We co-market with them and support them at places like IBMA.”

Guitar companies are also partners with D’Addario, including Collings, Bourgeois, Larivee, Beard and many more, including most recently, Taylor Guitars. “Taylor has recently partnered with us,” says Brian. “They are now using our premium XS coat Phosphor Bronze guitar strings exclusively on their guitars.”

Brian says that he believes music is both important and influential. “It is important for our future to help sustain it and help it grow. We believe in the power of music. It makes us proud to work for a company that gives back so much.”

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