Sweetwater Sound

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Founded 1979
Headquarters Fort Wayne, Indiana
Key people
Chuck Surack (founder), President/CEO
John Hopkins, Chief Operating Officer
Jeff Radke, Chief Sales Officer
Marc Leveridge, Chief Financial Officer
David Stewart, Chief Marketing Officer
Products Musical instruments, Recording equipment and accessories
Revenue $433.1 Million [1]
Number of employees
Website www.sweetwater.com

Sweetwater is one of the United States' largest dealers in musical equipment for musicians, recording studios, schools, churches, concert sound companies and broadcasters. Sweetwater sells pro audio equipment, digital recording systems, pianos and keyboards, guitars, microphones, mixers, loudspeakers, signal processors, and drums.


Chuck Surack established the company in 1979 in Fort Wayne, Indiana so that he could stop being a touring musician. The company originally offered recording services via a remote recording studio in Surack's Volkswagen microbus and a recording studio based out of his home.[2] When the Kurzweil K250 programmable keyboard and sampler was introduced in 1984, Surack became known for his custom K250 sound library and programming skills as well as his upgrade kits. Surack became a Kurzweil dealer, but his clients were asking for advice regarding other products as well. Surack expanded Sweetwater to become a music retailer whose emphasis was pre- and post-sale customer service. By 1990, with 6 employees and annual sales of $6 million, Sweetwater had outgrown Surack's home and moved into its own commercial building.[3][4]

In 1995, Sweetwater mounted an informational website: www.sweetwater.com, and by 1999, most of the inventory was available for purchase online.[5] Electronic Musician included sweetwater.com as one of nine essential online information resources for a musician, due to its 63,000 pages including instructional videos, demos and technical documents.[6]


In 2006, with 220 employees and continued business growth, Sweetwater commissioned MSKTD & Associates, Inc. to design and master plan a new 44-acre corporate campus. The new headquarters, consisting of corporate offices, a distribution center with warehouse, and a retail store, also included the Sweetwater Productions recording studio complex and 250-seat LARES-equipped performance theater, both designed by Russ Berger Design Group.[7][8] Sweetwater's new facility was certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council in April, 2009.[9]


Majic Miracle Music[edit]

In 2006, Sweetwater Productions and local Fort Wayne radio station WAJI Majic 95.1 started a partnership to record live, acoustic music from nationally-recognized artists and bands traveling through Fort Wayne. These recordings, along with others, have been used to produce "Majic Miracle Music" charity CDs to benefit Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Artists who recorded at Sweetwater Productions for "Majic Miracle Music" CDs include REO Speedwagon, Ingrid Michaelson, Lenka, Aimee Allen, Jars of Clay, Landon Pigg, Ben Jelen, Josh Kelley, Sara Bareilles, Jon McLaughlin, Gin Blossoms, and Collective Soul.[10]


  • 1994, "Inc. 500 – America's Fastest Growing Companies"[11]
  • 1995, "Inc. 500 – America's Fastest Growing Companies"[12]
  • 2005, Music Inc. "Independent Retailer of the Year"[13]
  • 2006, Northeastern Indiana Better Business Bureau "Torch Award" for business ethics, integrity and honesty[14]
  • 2008, "BCA Ten Award" for exceptional involvement with the arts that enrich the workplace, education and the community from Business Committee for the Arts (BCA).[15]
  • 2009, LEED Platinum Award, U.S. Green Building Council, for Sweetwater's corporate headquarters and its environmentally friendly construction and management[16]
  • 2009, "Indiana Governor's Arts Award", presented September 25, 2009, by Governor Mitch Daniels at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts, Muncie, Indiana[17]
  • 2012, Music Inc. "Retailer of the Year"[18]

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