Gibson CEO bemoans 'overreaching federal government'

Juszkiewicz responds to raids for Indian woods; 'I've instructed my staff to continue building'

A day after federal agents raided its facilities for the second time in two years, Gibson Guitar went on the offensive Thursday.

Speaking to the press outside of Gibson's Massman Road plant, CEO Henry Juszkiewicz bemoaned the actions of an "overreaching" government agency.

"We feel the arrogance of federal power is impacting us and that's just wrong," he said.

Juszkiewicz said U.S. Fish & Wildlife agents seized ebony and rosewood imported from India in the most recent raid, believing the seizure — like the taking of rosewood and ebony from Madagascar in a 2009 raid — is related to an investigation of violations of the Lacey Act.

A seminal piece of environmental legislation, the Lacey Act, among other things, requires that U.S. buyers certify they have followed the laws of foreign countries when importing certain lumber. Juszkiewicz insisted his company followed the relevant Indian law and, thus, is not in violation of the Lacey Act. Indeed, he said he has ordered production to continue in Nashville and at a Memphis facility, also raided Tuesday.

"Supposedly, every guitar we build is a violation. I've instructed my staff to continue building and I am taking responsibility," he said.

He alluded also to the 2009 seizure of the Madagascar wood, noting the company is still trying to recover the lumber seized and emphasizing no criminal charges were brought as a result of that seizure.

To Juszkiewicz's knowledge, no other luthiers have been raided.

"Any large [guitar] company is using Indian rosewood and ebony and we are the only who have been singled out," he said. "We have been implicated in wrongdoing and we haven't been charged ... There's no due process."

The CEO frequently pivoted to anti-big government rhetoric, at one point implying Gibson was the victim of "class warfare."

"There is a lack of someone in this country who stands up and says 'I'm about everyone,'" he said.