D’Addario Fiddle Strings

D’Addario's first factory was in Lynbrook, New York, and the initial staff consisted of only five employees. As always, it was a real family operation with John, Sr., John, Jr. and James leading the company's growth and business plans. James’ wife Janet helped to design packaging, heading up what would eventually become the company’s art department. The printing facility was still a strong support for the fledgling company, providing a steady source of income as the family developed their superior line of strings. The D’Addario reputation for service and quality served them well as they tapped into the market with their own products. Aggressive marketing strategies would help their product line gain popularity, and the staff of five quickly multiplied to fifteen.

John, Jr. and James were intent upon expanding the company's product line. John, Sr. was a little cautious about growth and recognized that it was probably a sign that he should retire, as his own father had, and let his capable sons take the reigns. It was around this time in the early 1980s that D’Addario would complement its successful fretted line with the acquisition of the Kaplan Musical String Company, a long-established manufacturer of classical instrument strings.

The brothers embarked on a rigorous program of research and development. They created a world-renowned line of products in the field, establishing D’Addario as a premier manufacturer of bowed instrument strings. D’Addario’s guitar and bass strings were already a great success. The brand was continually gaining in popularity and securing a sizeable share of the market.

In 1984, the company would relocate to a larger facility to handle the increased demand for their product, and the production staff ballooned to 150 employees. This would not be the last time the company would find itself busting at the seams of its factory space. Operations have expanded on several occasions since, with the largest expansion in 1994, when the company relocated to a new 110,000-square foot facility in Farmingdale. Today D’Addario & Company, Inc. occupies a total of 190,000-square feet at its Farmingdale headquarters, an additional 51,000-square feet at the Rico manufacturing facility in California, and employs more than 900 people, each one of them making an invaluable contribution to what has always been a family business. A distribution center in California handles shipments to the West, and satellite offices in Chicago and Los Angeles cater to musicians across the nation. D’Addario Canada is a third distribution center, providing D’Addario products to Canada, while satellite sales offices in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong and France help service the rest of D'Addario's global customer base.

The research and development arm of D’Addario is one of its strongest assets. Headed by James, the engineering department has accumulated many important manufacturing and product patents in the field. The company prides itself on identifying problems in their production and implementing solutions. This includes the work they’ve done on their newest product line additions, such as Evans Drumheads (1995) Planet Waves, an accessory line (1998), HQ Practice Products, drum silencing and silent practice products (2004) and Rico Reeds (2004).

Family, Success, and the Future

The theory of keeping as much “in house” as possible has served the D'Addario family well. The company owns a tremendous printing facility today, complete with color Heidelberg presses, that share the building across the street from the main factory in Farmingdale with Evans Drumheads. Most of the company's marketing, packaging artwork, and print ads are conceived and executed by its own marketing and creative staff, which has brought the company more cost-efficient and successful campaigns time and time again.

But D’Addario’s unbounded success is also due in part to its worldwide distribution and dealer networks. The company markets its products in the United States through wholesale distributors and over 5,400 retail music stores. In addition, the export markets are handled by 120 distributors in 101 countries.

When James D’Addario took his father, John, Sr., his mother Mary, and his own wife and three children to visit the town of Salle in 1996, never could he have imagined a warmer reception. A parade through the town, a feast at the mayor’s home, a key to the city; all were presented to the D’Addario family. The news of the success of the D’Addario “cordaro” had made its way back to this tiny town; and the town, like a proud great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, was smiling.

When John D’Addario Sr. passed away in June 2000, he was surrounded by his wife, his children, and grandchildren. He had the distinct pleasure of watching his children succeed beyond his wildest expectations, and he was very proud. Today, thirteen family members, grandchildren and cousins, work for D’Addario & Company, Inc., and great steps are being taken by John, Jr. and James to pass down the family vision and tradition.

The biggest tradition, and the one least likely to receive any headlines, is D’Addario’s appreciation for their employees. A company that started with family has grown to require the talents of so many people working together towards the same goal. What has become important is to preserve the values of the family while encouraging the growth of the company. John, Jr. and James are convinced that it can be done.