Yesterday I had the privilege of getting a tour at Sweetwater in Fort Wayne. Wow. This is where I want to work when I grow up. I had been to the old facility on Bass Road, but this place is awesome. (You can take a pictorial tour here).
I think I might have gotten a special tour too, because I went with a lady from our church who was invited by her nephew who works in the business office. He had been telling her she needed to come and see the place, so she finally told him she would... if she could bring her pastor along. I have great people in my church. She KNEW this would make my day (or week, or month...). And the nephew actually had the director of sales give us the tour. This would be the guy who oversees all the sales associates. He started working there when they had 30 employees, and now they have about 350! I felt a little odd in my t-shirt and shorts, since these guys both had on suits and ties, but there were plenty of other people like me throughout the "mall" (they designed it so it is like being in a mall. and it is).
When you walk in there is a huge area where the receptionists sit, and the beginning of the mall corridor. Across from the entrance is the store - which we didn't spend near enough time in. I recognized one of the guitar salesmen from another store I sometimes frequent (the tall guy who used to work at B-Sharp). Then we went around the corner to some of the business offices, and sales cubicles, and training rooms, and geez... there was just room after room after room of different things. There were several studios, a sheet music store, a concierge, a place to get your hair cut or eyebrows done, a huge open cafeteria, a video store, a big game area with video games, miniature golf, ping pong, pool table, and whatnot, a nice sized workout area, showers, the school, a couple of conference rooms and arena, and the theater. The theater was so cool. It had oodles of speakers, but they could also change the tone of the room. With the push of a button you could clap your hands and it would go from dead, to cathedral, to echo, to whatever else. It was wild. The guy said it's a great place to watch movies, because it has surround sound, but it's set up so every seat is the "center." Very cool. The place is also classified as "platinum green" or something. Their air conditioning comes from big cooling tanks out back - where ice is made during the night to cool the building during the day. They also have lighting sensors so the lights adjust to the amount of sunlight coming in the sunroofs. And basically everything else is just plain green as it gets.
I can't remember how many salesman there are, but I think the guy said each one handles 4,000 customers each. You are assigned your own personal salesman (I have had the same one for 10 years now), so when you call and the switchboard rings your person, it brings up all your information on his computer screen: who you are, where you live, what all you've bought or asked about, etc. According to the guy their customer base includes people from Aerosmith to Pink Floyd to Universal Studios. I think he said John Fogerty was there last week looking at guitars.
Anyway... this was a very cool tour. I think it only lasted a little over an hour, but we got to actually go into the warehouse too (which the normal tour doesn't). It was wild. He said they can literally have an ordered boxed and ready to ship 60 seconds from when it is made over the phone. Wild. And the guitar area was sweet. He told me that when they arrive they are left untouched for 24 hours, then they open the boxes and let them sit for so long after that, then they go through a 55-point inspection (or something), then they are photographed from a bunch of different angles, then they are ready to be for sale.
I don't know... I can't remember half of what I saw. It was like heaven though. I think I'll be going back next month with a friend who is coming out to do a show at church. I can't wait.