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Sweetwater Hires Phil Rich as VP of Merchandising

Sweetwater, the third-largest music instrument and pro audio retailer in the U.S., based in Fort Wayne, Ind., has hired former Guitar Center executive Phil Rich (pictured) as its Vice President of Merchandising. Rich will oversee all purchasing operations and work with sales and marketing to create and implement strategies for pricing, promotions, and product presentation in all of Sweetwater’s Web and print publications.

Rich will use his broad knowledge and expertise to optimize Sweetwater’s product offerings, and enhance the customer’s shopping experience and Sweetwater’s ability to provide the best customer service and gear expertise in the music industry.

Sweetwater founder and president Chuck Surack says, “We are thrilled to have someone with Phil’s incredible talents and background as the newest member of our management team. In fact, we were so impressed with Phil that we created for him an entirely new leadership position within the organization.”

“I am absolutely delighted to join the Sweetwater team,” Rich says. “Sweetwater’s strong fundamental leadership in sales, service and marketing are primed to integrate and utilize merchandising strategies to continue to fuel its incredible growth.”

A native of East Tennessee, Rich attended the University of Washington in Seattle for audio engineering and spent eight years in the U.S. Navy, six of those playing guitar in the Navy band. His next job was with Guitar Center where he began his career as a sales person and over the next 13 years was promoted to store manager, district sales manager, director of sales for guitar merchandise, and director of merchandising for electric guitars, which took him to Guitar Center’s corporate headquarters in California. For the past two and a half years at Guitar Center he held the position of Vice President of Merchandising for Guitars and Accessories, and for the past three years served on the NAMM Board of Directors.

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