PRS Guitars rocks the global stage through unmatched product innovation 

Founded by the gifted Paul Reed Smith in 1985, PRS Guitars is an American guitar and amplifier manufacturing company. Headquartered in Stevensville, Maryland, PRS Guitars’ product offering now includes electric and acoustic guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals as well as diverse musical accessories such as tuners and guitar strings. “Paul loves music,” begins Director of Supply Chain, Meghan Efland. “As a teenager, he loved listening to music and playing guitar, which led him to repairing and creating his own instruments. He then officially started the business in the mid-1980s. There are many stories going around about him, some of which he would occasionally share himself. For instance, he would recount how he snuck into concerts back when security was not as stringent as it is today, promoting his guitars to the artists. During the early days, Paul was able to get quite a few supporters in this way. The company started off with a small factory that had a handful of employees in Annapolis, Maryland. As PRS Guitars grew, it moved to the eastern shore of Maryland about 25 years ago. When I joined the company two decades ago, PRS Guitars had approximately 100 employees. Today, our workforce has grown to around 500 employees,” she details.  

Expanding product portfolio 

Meghan Efland, Director of Supply Chain

Through the course of its inspiring history, PRS Guitars’ product offering has evolved significantly. “In its early years, the company’s core product line encompassed American made US pickups and high-end hardware. Over the course of our expansion, we introduced our SE Series, which has now evolved into its own distinct brand, incorporating more and more of the ‘DNA’ of our Maryland instruments. Our SE guitars are manufactured in Asia and brought into our factory where they are inspected before being distributed. Additionally, we have a product line called the S2 Series, featuring American made guitars at a mid-tiered price point. We further diversified by offering amplifiers and bolt-on neck electrics. While most of our guitars are set neck, with the neck and body assembled in the woodshop, the manufacturing process is different for our bolt-on neck guitars. To make these guitars, the neck and body are run separately until the final assembly stage, where the two parts are bolted on together. Some products in that category include our John Mayer Silver Sky and our Dustie Waring DW CE Floyd signature models. We also operate our exclusive Private Stock custom shop, the pinnacle of our product line. Lastly, we provide a selection of pedals and accessories as well as merch like PRS Guitars mugs and t-shirts,” Meghan elaborates.  

Streamlined shipping processes 

To streamline its operations, PRS Guitars has adopted new technologies and techniques to facilitate supply chain management. “In 2018, we implemented a newer ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. Prior to that, we relied on outdated software with convoluted commands and data extraction processes. On the planning side, there were only seven planning parameters that could be loaded per item. In contrast, our new ERP system introduces many more planning parameters. It features a data entry and item maintenance screen that allows for hierarchical structuring of these parameters and an understanding of how they interrelate. Most importantly, it empowers us to extract and enter information from and into the system more effectively. Alongside that, we have conducted extensive management training across all departments focusing on ensuring the accuracy of the dates put into the system and working closely with the sales team. This has become particularly crucial for us following the boom we experienced during the pandemic as more people began learning to play guitar in lockdown. Consequently, we faced a huge backlog of orders, but the pace has started to right size now. Although we still have a significant backlog, our customers, mainly stores, dealers, and distributors, have asked us to stagger their shipments. This allows us to align the delivery dates with their preferences to avoid overwhelming their warehouses with merchandise. 

“Additionally, we have begun using Pacejet to streamline our shipping processes. Previously, our shippers had to log into UPS, FedEx, and other carrier systems individually to determine the pricing and shipping methods for each product. Meanwhile, Pacejet links our ERP system with carrier companies, importing all the necessary data and providing us with the available rates for each shipment. As a result, nobody needs to perform dual data entry tasks, which has an important positive impact on our business,” Meghan enlightens.  

Enhancing capabilities 

As the company is actively working on its five-year strategic plan, Meghan unveils what it entails. “Our primary focus will be on expanding into different price points in the guitar and amplifier markets. That includes diversifying our selection of pedals, too. We already have offices in Japan, England, and Rotterdam as well as a 3PL entity in Canada. As we continue to grow, we will be exploring how we can best serve our customers and the markets by continuing to work with key partners and developing new strategies. Lastly, on the planning side, we will seek new vendors and manufacturing facilities, collaborating to enhance our collective capabilities,” she concludes. 

By exploring new price points and product offerings, PRS is well-positioned to fulfill its five-year plan and amplify its dominance in the guitar industry for years to come.