Cole Clark Guitar Factory Fire Set at More Than $1 Million
One of Australia’s biggest guitar manufacturers has suffered a serious blow, with reports that instruments and equipment have been damaged in a blaze at one of its key factories.
More than 50 firefighters were called out to a Cole Clark Guitars factory in the Victorian suburb of Bayswater ona ugust 27, in response to a fiery outbreak at the Clare Street site, the Herald Sun reports.
It took around an hour to get the flames at the guitar factory under control. Details of the damage to stock at the guitar factory in the inferno, as well as the safety of its staff are unclear at this time, though an anonymous commenter noted that “everyone is out and safe.” Other reports do state however, that while the fire was contained to a rear section of the production plant, one of three operated by Cole Clark Guitars, much of the building was significantly smoke-logged.
A message on the CFA Facebook page advises that “the incident in the Bayswater area is now under control. The factory fire is now safe. This message applies to the area(s) of Bayswater, Bayswater North. You may still see smoke from nearby communities and roads. CFA will [have] fire trucks at the location for some time.”
Around 13 firetrucks from the nearby suburbs of Bayswater, Dandenong, Scoresby, Boronia, Ferntree Gully and The Basin remained at the scene of the blaze to mop up the last of the flames.
UPDATE: The estimated cost of damage from the Cole Clark Guitars warehouse fire is estimated to be over $1 million, according to CEO Miles Jackson as the true extent of the damage is surveyed. “[It's] well over $1 million. But probably below $2 million, so somewhere between there,” Jackson tells TheMusic. “We will be out of production for one to two months, then six weeks after that till we will have guitars coming through,” Jackson adds. “We are insured but it will make life difficult for a while.”
It is believed that the source of the fire was sparked in ‘the paint booth’, with approximately 30 people in the guitar factory when the fire broke out, though all escaped without injury.
The Bayswater factory was the latest in Cole Clark Guitars’ expansion in Melbourne to help grow both new domestic and export markets, and was established shortly after the co-founder and namesakes of the company, Bradley Clark and Adam Cole, exited the company in June 2012, with former Billy Hyde executive Miles Jackson becoming the new Cole Clark Guitars CEO in a bid to further international markets.
The Australian guitar makers, who pride themselves on using natural resources and produce a range of acoustic, electric, and lap-steel guitars, are used and endorsed by a range of Aussie artists, including Tim Rogers, Tex Perkins, Eskimo Joe, Birds Of Tokyo, and Xavier Rudd, whose trusty ‘Fat Lady’ 12-string acoustic featured prominently on his latest album, Spirit Bird.
The company was operating on a small staff of 30 members that produced between 80-100 handmade guitars weekly, turning a profit of $35.9 million in 2011.
Jackson, who had previously headed Australian Native Musical Instruments (who traded under the Cole Clark brand) was a founding investor in Cole Clark Guitars before he took over as CEO in June last year.
The company’s founders, Bradley Clark and Adam Cole are moving onto new business and music ventures respectively. Cole to focus on running his own retail shop, Valley Music in Lilydale, as well as running a music teaching school while fronting his own metal band, Bugdust.
Clark relocated to China last year, a country that is currently entering into a guitar-making boom thanks to its cheap production and shipping costs, producing more guitars annually than the entire Australian domestic market. Clark is intending to tap into this growing area with a business deal between Sydney’s Australis Music Group and Pearl River, the world’s biggest maker of pianos, that he’s overseeing with instrument manufacturer Guangzhou Ashton Music.
As Cole Clark Guitar’s new CEO, Jackson spoke last year to The Age of the difficulty of producing instruments in Australia because of the high operating costs compared to the appearance of cheaper alternatives provided by internet merchants and makers.
This report originated on tonedeaf.com.au.