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What's Up Magazine

Paul Reed Smith

Jan 24, 2013 09:18PM ● By Anonymous

To say that Smith has built a guitar dynasty is not an understatement. One of the early defining moments for PRS Guitars was when Carlos Santana played his custom PRS when performing on the Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show in 1981. That helped cement Smith’s dream to establish PRS Guitars. Four years later, in ’85, Smith founded a small workshop in historic Annapolis. And from those humble beginnings, PRS Guitars grew to become the third largest electric guitar manufacturer in the United States. Now based in Stevensville, the company produces crème de la crème instruments for the who’s who of guitarists (Santana and Al Di Meola, among many others) and employs hundreds of local residents.

“This area is full of really smart people, really good, talented people with great work ethic,” says Smith, who was awarded the “Small Business Person of the Year Award” for Maryland in 2002 and has been honored with a resolution on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates for his contributions to the State. Smith was twice a finalist for Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year Award.” As for the secret to his success, Smith says, “It’s all about knowing your cards, playing your cards, getting a mentor, striving for balance, and enjoying the moments.” And though he’s the recipient of many accolades, Smith is more proud of giving back to the community.

Every year PRS hosts a benefit concert and golf tournament with John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. “This year [2012], everybody I called wanted to help including Neal Schon of Journey,” explains Smith. “Journey actually donated a live concert to help us raise money for Hopkins Living with Cancer Resource Program.” The event raised $300,000 and since 2000, with the help of many giving musicians, more than $2 million has been raised for Hopkins.

“When I die, [I hope] people are going to talk about me being a father, a husband, a friend, a brother. They might mention the guitar making,” Smith says. “Somebody once told me that the best thing I ever did for the world was provide a job for 280 people. Wow! I never thought about it like that.”