CEO of Fender Musical Instruments Andy Mooney is placing bets on new avenues and repeat performances for an iconic American brand.
By Mike Errico
“At my very first town hall in Scottsdale, I’m getting introduced as the new CEO, and all they know about me is that I’ve worked at Nike, I’ve worked at Disney,” Fender chief executive Andy Mooney begins, settling into a story enhanced by his gruff Scottish accent. “And I start to tell them about the first Stratocaster I had, and how I modified it to place the metal pickup down like [Deep Purple guitarist] Ritchie Blackmore did, and how I added the extended tremolo bar, and so forth. And at the end of the presentation, one of the more tenured employees came up to me and says, “I really thought I was going to hate you…but you might actually get it.” He deadpans, “Which I took as a compliment.”
In the midst of a very uncertain historical moment, guitars have been having a good run: the pandemic spiked instrument sales, reinvigorated hobbyists and broadened the fanbase to include new players. But this is more than a business success to Mooney, who spent his twenties pursuing a career as a professional musician before taking on corporate roles. He remains an avid guitar collector (he had his eye on Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s coveted Fender before it fetched a record price at auction), and since 2015, he has balanced a sensitivity to history with a sharp eye toward what’s next for the iconic brand.
In our conversation, we spoke about brand equity, data-driven business decisions, and the reason you want your competitors to succeed, too.