BEN LOMOND -- Kenny Hill oversees a sophisticated global operation that manufactures classical guitars on two continents, with materials from around the world, to sell to customers in several countries -- and he does it all from a converted house among the fog-shrouded redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains."World headquarters in Ben Lomond!" Hill says, marveling that his complex enterprise is centered in a place better known for logging than logistics.
Hill is the founder of Hill Guitar, an outfit that makes about 150 top-of-the-line instruments a year in a small plant with six workers just down the hill from world headquarters and an additional 50,000 a year that he has designed for more modest budgets
in a factory halfway around the world in Guangzhou, China."Our business is as complicated as Honda or Mercedes," Hill says.
Hill makes his most expensive guitars close to home, where he can literally take a hands-on approach with the meticulously crafted instruments. In China, he relies on an assembly-line operation in a factory of 200 workers to provide economies of scale for guitars that sell for much less than his Ben Lomond models. And he's helping launch a plant in Oxnard that will produce guitars priced between the Ben Lomond and Chinese models and that require a level of hand-crafting greater than the Chinese products and less than the high-end guitars.
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|Kenny Hill, founder of Hill Guitar Company plays one of his high-end custom-built acoustic guitars at his showroom in Ben Lomond, Calif.|