I’ve just retuned from a trip to California during which I managed to visit the Santa Cruz Guitar Company. Some of you might know that Santa Cruz make some of the finest 6 stringed instruments on the planet – the fruit of years of experience and many months of dedicated labour, skill, passion and craftsmanship.
I happen to own one of them… a 12 fret D. It’s a big bodied steel strung guitar that plays with the delicacy of a classical lute or the power of a freight train depending how you play it – mahogany back and sides and a sitka spruce top. The founder, Richard Hoover was out that day so my son Cassian and I were given a great tour by Carolyn.
It all starts with good wood. We witnessed how solid blocks of Honduran mahogany, Indian rosewood, Koa and Spruce were carefully selected and kiln dried for months before being assigned to various models. Santa Cruz customers can choose their own combinations of woods, neck shapes and finish to build their perfect bespoke musical partner.
The business employs around 15 craftsmen. Some have been there for 20 years, all with a high degree of personal job satisfaction and huge pride in their work they do and the product they create. It’s the sort of company I like to deal with.
This highly skilled craft workshop resonated with me on several levels. First, I like the family atmosphere, it was small, intimate, personal and nurturing. Second, I related to the artistic, creative ethos – aesthetic, imaginative, cultured. Third, they worked with their hands, ears, eyes and even sense of smell – it was not a production line. Finally, and most importantly – they cared about what they made and wanted each individual guitar to be the best possible.
It’s the type of business we are trying to build here…. call it a digital craft workshop… small enough for everyone to be personally involved, but experienced enough to turn out high quality work for clients who appreciate it. We don’t work with wood and hide glue and lacquer…but with pixels and code and creative imagination and e-commerce experience. But I like to think that at the heart of what we do, we are not so different.
It all about motivation. For me, success is a mixture of a variety of elements. We will never be just a dry commercial agency thinking only of the bottom line. Our workshop is a place where design, commerce, creativity, technology, innovation and style all meet, mix and get along well together. And as long as we continue to attract clients that share the same mix of values, we will continue to love creating the work we do.