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Ex-Guitar Center CEO to Lead Fender

Fender Musical Instruments Corp. (FMIC) has appointed Larry Thomas as CEO, following the retirement of the company’s chairman and current CEO, Bill Mendello. According to a statement from Fender, the announcement is part of a succession plan that has been in place for nearly a year, and Thomas will officially begin his new role on Aug. 1. He led Guitar Center from 1996–2004 as chairman and CEO and served on Fender’s board of directors since last year.

“I am delighted to be able to pass the leadership of FMIC into the very capable hands of Larry Thomas,” Mendello said. “Larry is a widely-respected person with an incredible amount of experience and valuable insight about music companies and music retailers, large and small. He is one of the true legends in the industry and brings the credentials that will help lead FMIC to even greater future success.”

“It is an incredible honor and responsibility to be chosen to lead Fender Musical Instruments Corp.,” Thomas said. “As one of the world’s best-known and most respected companies, there continues to be great potential in the FMIC brands, and I look forward to contributing to future success while growing the company’s powerful musical legacy.”

Fender has also named current board members Mark Fukunaga and Michael Lazarus as co-chairmen, effective Aug. 1. Fukunaga has served as a member of the company’s board since 1993 and is currently the chairman and CEO of Servco Pacific. Lazarus has served as a member of the board since late 2001. He co-founded Weston Presidio, a private equity firm and Fender’s largest shareholder, in 1991, where he currently serves as managing partner.