Gibson raided by the feds
The guitar maker Gibson, famous for the Les Paul (one of my favorites to play) and the SG (which I own), was raided by armed agents from US Fish and Wildlife on Friday due to the belief that the company is illegally using wood from India not finished by Indian workers:
Federal agents raided the Gibson Guitar Corporation in Nashville Wednesday morning.
Authorities have yet to release details as to why the facility on Massman Drive off Elm Hill Pike was raided although it’s believed to be related to a raid at the same facility in November 2009 for possible violations of the Lacey Act.
The Lacey Act is a federal environmental law that prohibits importing endangered plants and wildlife. It was amended in 2009 to also include wood products.
During the raid in 2009, federal agents seized materials, files and computers from the plant on allegations that a rare ebony wood from Madagascar was illegally used at the factory.
No charges were ever filed
Wednesday morning, several hundred employees at the facility were first evacuated.
“We were just in our department and one of the supervisors just come in and said everybody get out and we just shut the machines off and headed out the door,” one employee who did want to be identified said.
They were later told to go home after being allowed to reenter the building to collect their belongings.
The Gibson Guitar facility in Memphis was also raided by federal authorities Wednesday morning.
In an extensive press release issued after the raid, Gibson denied any wrongdoing, noted that the raid cost the company money and said that the information that the feds were seeking had already been made available. Additionally, the Gibson points out that the wood they used had been purchased from respected and recognized industry supplier. Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson, also took the opportunity take issue with intimidation being used against him and his company:
The Wall Street Journal notes that the raid on Gibson is bad news for anyone with a guitar built with the woods in question. You just may become a victim of the Lacey Act if you don’t have the papers to prove when the guitar was made.
For all the talk about keeping jobs in the United States, the federal government certainly isn’t providing American-based guitar makers with an excuse to manufacture in the country. While this is an extreme case, overreach and excessive regulation aren’t going to do much to encourage companies to grow and expand.