CHAPTER 10: The Sixth Generation
Christian Frederick Martin IV was born on July 8, 1955. He then attended UCLA, majoring in Economics. In his free time, he helped in the guitar repair shop of Westwood Music in West Los Angeles, and this also gave him a valuable insight into the retail end of the music business.
When Chris was small, he helped box strings, 6 to a box. In 1972 and 1973 he became more active in the business, helping in the office and attending the NAMM Trade Show in Chicago. He also worked in the machine room cutting out guitar neck blanks on the bandsaw.
During the summer of 1973, Chris spent his time learning every operation and assisting with the construction of a D-28S guitar. This and his apprenticeship in the shop was an invaluable experience when he took his place in the family business.
Chris joined the Martin Guitar Company full time after his graduation from Boston University in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the School of Management. Chris worked in many departments, learning how the business functioned from the bottom up. In 1985 he was appointed Vice President of Marketing, and he took an active roll in the day-to-day challenge of running a traditional business in a modern world. After the death of his grandfather, C. F. Martin III, on June 15, 1986, C. F. Martin IV was appointed Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, indicating his responsibility for leading Martin into the next century.
Under Chris' management, the Sycamore Street facility was expanded, the successful Backpacker travel guitar was introduced, and the limited edition guitar program was expanded to include signature models of significant artists like Gene Autry, Eric Clapton, and Marty Stuart as well as unique collaborations like the 1996 "MTV Unplugged" MTV-1 guitar. Perhaps the boldest new direction that Chris took was the development and introduction of the patented "1 Series" guitars, which thoroughly re-examined the way guitars are designed and constructed. Through the use of innovative processes combined with computer aided manufacturing, the "1 Series" models offer an affordable acoustic guitar without compromise of tone or craftsmanship.
The Martin Guitar Company is thriving under the direction of Chris, whose management style is friendly and personal, yet firm and direct. Chris travels extensively world-wide in order to stay abreast of market trends and to do instructional clinics at Martin dealerships around the world.