Locally based Sweetwater, a leading eCommerce provider of musical instruments and audio equipment, on June 29 announced a strategic investment from funds advised by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Chuck Surack, founder and CEO of Sweetwater, started the business in 1979 selling music and audio equipment out of his van. Today it’s an online industry leader with thousands of employees. The campus is located on U.S. 30 west of Interstate 69.
Surack has diversified the business, which now includes SweetAviation, SweetHelicopters, SweetCars, Longe Optical, Lakeland Internet, the Clyde Theatre, The Club Room at the Clyde and Crescendo Coffee and More.
“Sweetwater has a strong track record of sustaining long-term, scalable growth by identifying and capitalizing on new market opportunities,” says a news release from Providence Equity.
By striving to provide exceptional customer service, Sweetwater coined the “Sweetwater Difference” to emphasize its commitment to customer service.
Sweetwater announced in February it had seen its revenue surpass $1 billion a year for the first time. It also reported serving more than 1.5 million unique customers and added more than 400 new jobs.
According to the news release from Providence, Surack said, “We are thrilled to partner with Providence to help accelerate our next phase of growth and bring the ‘Sweetwater Difference’ to even more customers. I am incredibly proud of the growth our company achieved over the last year, which would not have been possible without the dedication of our employees and world-class team of music gear specialists. I am confident this growth equity investment will allow us to reach new heights and further our mission of enabling customers to make music and pursue their dreams.”
John Hopkins, COO of Sweetwater, said in the news release, “Providence is a great partner to continue our momentum and take Sweetwater to the next level. As the world emerges from the pandemic, we believe the firm’s strong track record of helping music-related businesses accelerate their growth will be invaluable. The Providence team appreciates what makes Sweetwater different and we are aligned on how we can further leverage our unique culture to capitalize on new opportunities that create even better customer experiences.”
“Sweetwater’s status as an online industry leader is a direct result of its unique culture and dedication to customer service,” said Scott Marimow, managing director at Providence, in the news release. “We believe the company is well-positioned for sustainable growth as live events return and artists and entertainment companies look to provide the memorable experiences that have been absent over the past year and a half. We are excited to partner with such a culture-driven company and look forward to working with Chuck and team to grow the business together.”
Michael Dominguez, chief investment officer of Providence, said in the news release, “Over the past 42 years Sweetwater has built an industry leader with an extraordinary commitment to service that helps customers fuel their passion for music. We are honored to partner with a company that has stayed true to its customers, manufacturers and employees, all while establishing itself as a pinnacle in the music and audio retail space. We’re excited about the growth opportunities that lie ahead.”
When contacted by email Heather Herron, spokeswoman for Sweetwater, said, “Nothing to report other than what the press release from Providence said. It’s business as usual at Sweetwater.”